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Las Vegas unemployment rate second highest in US in April

Las Vegas’ share of unemployed workers remained stubbornly high a couple of months ago despite a notable bump in tourism, a new report shows.

The valley’s unemployment rate in April, 9 percent, was second highest in the nation among large metro areas, ahead of only Los Angeles at 9.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.

Birmingham, Alabama, had the lowest jobless rate among the big metro areas at 2.7 percent.

Las Vegas’ rate ticked up from 8.8 percent in March, state officials recently reported, but was still dramatically lower than its sky-high 33.3 percent jobless rate in April 2020, after Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered Nevada casinos and other businesses closed to help contain the spreading coronavirus outbreak, leaving the Strip a surreal site of barricaded resort entrances and empty sidewalks.

“This time last year, Nevada was in the early stages of the largest business shutdown in the state’s history,” David Schmidt, the state’s chief economist, said in a news release a few weeks ago.

The pandemic kept masses of people home and away from crowds for fear of getting infected, devastating the tourism industry, the backbone of Southern Nevada’s economy. Casinos and other businesses were allowed to reopen from stretches of state-ordered lockdown, and Las Vegas’ jobless rate has shrunk.

But the region’s economy, which is heavily dependent on tourists and conventioneers traveling here to spend money, still has a way to go before it reaches pre-pandemic levels.

In February 2020, the month before the virus outbreak turned life upside down, Las Vegas’ jobless rate was just 3.6 percent, federal data shows.

Still, tourists have surged back lately as vaccines roll out and daily life starts to return to normal, crowding the sidewalks once again along the Strip. Nearly 2.6 million visitors came to Las Vegas in April, up 15.4 percent from March, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported.

Employers across key sectors in Southern Nevada have had trouble finding workers in recent months, though as Nevada moved closer to a full reopening from coronavirus restrictions, jobless filers were told to look for work as part of their unemployment benefits.

Claimants must now keep records that they are submitting job applications, updating their resume, networking, or enrolling in job training.

Sisolak had dropped the job-search requirement last year at the onset of the pandemic.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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