Nevada public sector workforce shrank during the pandemic

Nevada public sector workforce shrank during the pandemic
Nevada state seal. Image: Trevor Bexon

by April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current
September 14, 2021

CARSON CITY–Nevada’s non-education public sector workforce is down 5.2% compared to pre-pandemic, according to a new analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Comparing employment data from July 2021 with July 2019, Pew found that 14 states recorded declines of more than 5% in their state and local governments, excluding education jobs.

Almost a dozen states reported larger declines than Nevada.

Only four states — Texas, South Dakota, Rhode Island and West Virginia — had larger non-education public sectors in July 2021 compared to July 2019.

In Nevada, employment overall was down 5.98% in July 2021 compared to July 2019, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents nearly 85,000 jobs statewide.

Government officials have warned that many of those jobs may not return as employers reconfigure their operations to include fewer employees. Public and private sector employers have also reported difficulties finding workers.

Nevada’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.7% in July 2021 — the highest in the nation. That statewide rate was led by the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which reported a 9.4% unemployment rate — again, the highest in the nation.

While Pew’s most recent data dive focused on the non-education public sector, last year the organization reported that Nevada’s education public sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic. When comparing September 2019 to September 2020 data, they found Nevada’s local education employment was down 19.1% — the biggest decline of any state.

Those numbers have since improved both nationally and in Nevada, but they too have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels.

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