by McKenna Ross, Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 17, 2022
Nevada gained 7,500 jobs in October, the third-largest monthly increase in the past year, according to a report from Nevada’s employment office on Thursday.
The total number of jobs is 1,471,800, or 55,500 more jobs than October 2021 and 22,200 jobs higher than before the pandemic.
The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported that the Las Vegas metro area added a seasonally adjusted 4,900 jobs last month. The Reno metro area, meanwhile, lost 500 jobs and Carson City gained 100.
DETR Chief Economist David Schmidt said he thinks the report shows a strong labor market that follows a more normal growth pattern.
“We’ve had a little bit more sustainable growth since we we passed the pre-pandemic level of employment in June,” he said.
Nevada set an all-time employment record in June, officially recovering all of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the state reached 1,452,600 jobs, 3,000 more than the previous record from February 2020.
The state’s unemployment rate in October was 4.6 percent, an increase of 0.2 percentage points from the previous month but a decrease of 0.8 percentage points year over year. Nationally, the unemployment rate is 3.7 percent.
Still, Andrew Woods, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said he’s concerned that the labor force has shrunk compared to pre-pandemic levels. Statewide data from September show nearly 12,000 fewer people in the labor force compared to September 2019.
“If there’s less people in the workforce, output overall is lower,” Woods said. “It can hurt consumers overall because it’s basically a supply chain shortage … which pushes up prices and wages.”
When looking at the state’s largest industry, leisure and hospitality has yet to fully recover. In October, the sector had 94.6 percent of the jobs from its pre-pandemic peak of 361,700 in February 2020, according to DETR. Statewide total employment in the sector is now 342,200.
Yet subsectors within leisure and hospitality can vary greatly. In the Las Vegas metro area, the data showed food-related subcategories are close or above 100 percent of its pre-pandemic employment level. But jobs in accommodation services was lower — in October, there were 137,700 jobs, or 82.6 percent of the March 2019 peak of 166,800 jobs.
Schmidt said DETR estimates that between 5,000 and 10,000 jobs could be added to the hospitality sector in the next few years, but he doesn’t expect a full recovery.
“We are going to see some permanent shift in the total number of jobs in the casino industry,” Schmidt said. “In part because as properties have gone through this loss (then) growth… and as they’ve been looking to find workers over the last couple of years, they’ve also been adjusting and adapting their business practices. I think those adaptations are not going to simply vanish — they’ll be baked into the cake.”
That process appears to be already occurring. Some major casinos told analysts during recent earnings calls that labor shortages and wage inflation are easing.
Boyd Gaming Corp. executives said they were able to normalize staffing levels “given our current level of business,” and Caesars Entertainment Inc. CEO Tom Reeg had a similarly positive outlook.
“We’ve got labor cost inflation that rolls through, but that’s been for quite some time and frankly, the labor picture continues to look better as we get quarters in the rearview mirror,” Reeg said during an earnings call this month.