Elko County continues to weather the pandemic-induced economic recession far better than Nevada as a whole, maintaining the fourth-lowest unemployment rate of all counties in Nevada at just 4.3 percent. However, this rate is above where it stood in October of 2019 at just 2.6 percent. The statewide unemployment rate for October stood at 11.8 percent, heavily influenced by the 13.8 percent unemployment rate in Clark County, Nevada’s largest population center. Outside of Clark County, the overall Nevada unemployment rate was just 6.2 percent for October, a significant increase since the beginning of the pandemic and business restrictions that began in March of 2020, but less severe than the statewide numbers alone would indicate. While much of the state has seen a modest economic downturn, Clark County has been the worst performer statewide with its heavy reliance on travel, tourism and gaming, an industry that has been severely impacted by the new market realities of the pandemic era.

Elko County has also outperformed the state in terms of consumer spending measures, such as taxable retail sales and gross gaming revenue, despite a decline in wages earned. Total private sector wages earned in Elko County declined by 8.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020 (latest data available), totaling $233.0 million. As the economy has recovered from the steep downturn experienced in the second quarter, it is expected that wage data should show a rebound when third quarter data is released. In September, taxable retail sales in Elko County totaled $155.9 million, an increase of 12.5 percent from August and 14.5 percent higher than the previous September. This is a significant departure from the indicator’s performance statewide, as total taxable retail sales for Nevada declined 4.0 percent year over year in September. The same is true of gross gaming revenue. In October, Elko County posted a modest year-over-year increase of 1.3 percent, with a total of $25.5 million in gaming revenue. Statewide, gaming revenue decreased by 19.5 percent. Because gaming revenue in Elko County is far more dependent on local spending, gaming revenue quickly rebounded to “normal” levels after casinos were allowed to re-open in June following their shutdown in March.

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