The spread of COVID-19 in Nevada has fallen from its December peak, but the ongoing pandemic continued to show broad negative effects throughout the economy as the calendar flipped to 2021. Most measures of coronavirus infections, including new cases and deaths, have declined in recent weeks, yet metrics through the winter months remained elevated compared to the prior peak period in late summer. The nationwide rollout of vaccines has provided reason for optimism in the new year. The state has administered more than 100,000 vaccine doses, and the pace of vaccinations is expected to improve as accessibility and availability increase. The majority of doses have been targeted to healthcare workers and the elderly. This month, priority status was also granted to hotel-casino employees as they were reclassified as essential workers. Leisure and hospitality workers account for nearly a quarter of all employees in the state. Having a vaccinated workforce will help boost traveler confidence in Nevada as a safe destination. A majority of Nevadans are expected to be immunized by the spring.

Nevada’s labor market closed out the year on a strong note. The economy in December added jobs for the eighth consecutive month. Employment in Nevada grew by 0.6 percent, or 8,200 jobs, over the month compared to a national employment decline in jobs of 0.1 percent. The pace of Nevada’s monthly job growth has slowed, however, a reminder of the ongoing effects of the pandemic and related response. The state unemployment rate improved to 9.2 percent, down from 10.4 percent in November. December marked the first month of single-digit unemployment rate since March 2020, but the latest rate remained 5.5 percentage points higher than the prior year.

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