Nevada’s economic recovery from the Great Recession has been filled with mixed signals. Core statistics like the population in-migration, housing starts and visitor volume have reported strong growth and consistent gains, while others, such as gross gaming revenue, commercial vacancies and personal incomes, have reported slow and staggered progress. The varying performance of various indicators notwithstanding, there is one factor that stands above the rest in defining Nevada’s progress – employment.

Nevada’s unemployment rate currently stands at 8.5 percent, down 1.8 percentage points during the past 12 months and 5.4 points from the high point of 13.9 percent reported in October 2010. While seasonally adjusted unemployment continues to fall, the mathematics underlying the unemployment calculation have shifted materially. The unemployment rate is comprised of two population groups, those who are actively seeking employment (i.e., the unemployed) and those who are in the labor force (i.e., defined as currently working or actively seeking work). The sharp reduction in Nevada’s unemployment rate between 2012 and 2013 is attributable not only to more people finding a job, but also a significant reduction in the number of people actively looking for work.

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