The second quarter of 2020 has been one of historical significance for the global and U.S. economies. As the COVID-19 pandemic has halted the longest uninterrupted stretch of economic growth in the country’s history, Nevada has been particularly hard hit, and is experiencing the highest unemployment rate in the country. While Elko County has reported significant job losses of 24.9 percent year over year through April, the region has fared better than the state as a whole. This is partly due to the area’s relative lack of dependence on the tourism industry, the state’s biggest economic sector, which is heavily concentrated in Nevada’s two main population centers in the Las Vegas and Reno areas. Elko County’s unemployment rate rose to 15.7 percent in April, well below the 28.2 percent recorded statewide and the 33.5 percent rate recorded in Clark County.

Elko County may not be as reliant on tourism and gaming as much of the state, but the impact of casino closures has still been significant. In February 2020, Elko County recorded $27.5 million in gaming revenue, and the trailing 12-month total reached a record-high of $318.4 million. In March, with casinos being shut down mid-month, Elko recorded just $14.9 million in gaming revenue. April saw gaming revenue all but disappear in Elko County as gaming revenue totaled $6,104. 

Most data currently lag behind the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown, which has turned into the fastest-onset recession in American history. Taxable retail sales through March showed only a minor year-over-year decline in Elko County, as some stockpiling and panic-buying of goods offset the closure of many stores. When data for April and May become available, it is expected that both months will show more significant declines. However, as the economy begins to open up further through the beginning of summer, these declines could reverse and support a rebound in employment and consumer spending.

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