Just over one year ago, the COVID-19 health crisis and related response the most significant economic shocks in modern history. As nonessential businesses were asked to temporarily close, Southern Nevada lost 227,700 jobs in just one month (March to April 2020), ending nine consecutive years of positive job growth. This ultimately resulted in the region’s unemployment rate reaching an all-time high of 34 percent in April 2020, the highest in the nation.
By early 2021, Southern Nevada’s job market began to experience more pronounced signs of recovery as COVID-19 vaccines began public distribution and business capacity limits began to lift. As of March, Southern Nevada’s unemployment rate currently stood at 8.8 percent, a decrease of 25.2 percentage points since its peak in April 2020. The region has also added back 134,500 jobs since the low point, increasing employment to 914,100.
The leisure and hospitality sector was impacted the hardest and still remains down 89,300 jobs from March 2020. Other sectors that experienced negative employment growth over the year include professional and business services (-20,400 jobs), government (-8,000 jobs), construction (-5,400 jobs), other services (-3,800 jobs), education and health services (-3,100 jobs), manufacturing (-2,700 jobs) and information (-1,400). As many consumers shifted their buying habits online, the trade, transportation and utilities sector was the only one to increase its employment during the past year, adding 7,400 jobs within the region. Additionally, the state’s initial unemployment insurance claims have stabilized since reaching their historic high of 208,869 claims in March 2020. Compared to the prior year, initial claims have dropped 79.7 percent to 42,498 claims in March 2021.
As more people were welcomed back to work, average weekly wages in the region reported also reported increases. As of March 2021, average weekly wages in Southern Nevada stood at $887, an increase of 2.0 percent from the prior year. In addition, the average number of hours worked per employee has remained relatively stable and ticked up in the last few months.
The implications of the COVID-19 health crisis have been substantial over the past year, but the reopening of businesses, availability of vaccines and declining infection rates have helped return tens of thousands of people to work. Although the area is showing signs of recovery, there is still significant ground to cover. Beginning June 1, businesses are expected to be at 100 percent capacity, which will help to further open up the leisure and hospitality sector, ultimately supporting more positions dependent on travelers to the region. Southern Nevada has time and again proven its resiliency through challenging times and is poised to demonstrate that strength again in the second half of 2021 and beyond.