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Nevada unemployment rate down to 8.5 percent in February

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CARSON CITY, Nevada — Nevada's jobless rate fell to 8.5 percent in February, marking more than three straight years of an improved job market.

The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported the decline Friday, noting total nonfarm payroll increased by 3,000.

February's statewide seasonally adjusted rate is down 0.2 of a percentage point from January and remains Nevada's lowest unemployment rate since October 2008.

Gov. Brian Sandoval noted the report marks the 38th straight month of an improved job market.

Bill Anderson, Nevada's chief economist said 116,600 Nevadans were out of work in February, but that number is down by 26,000 from a year ago.

Additionally the number of long-term unemployed — defined as those out of work for 27 weeks or longer — decreased by 14,500 in February from a year ago to 51,600. Long-term unemployed account for 39 percent of Nevada's overall jobless populations.

The national unemployment rate in February was 6.7 percent, while California was 8.1 percent.

Locally, the Carson City area had the highest unemployment rate in the state in February at 9.9 percent. Las Vegas was the lowest, 8.6 percent, while the Reno-Sparks area stood at 8.8 percent.

Still, Anderson said the local job markets, which are not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, all decline from the same month a year ago, with Reno posting the biggest decline at 2 percentage points, followed closely by Las Vegas at 1.9 percentage points. Carson City's rate is down 1.5 percentage points from February 2013.

Anderson, in his monthly report, said jobs returning to Nevada are mostly full-time and represent 88 percent of jobs added in the past year.

In February, job gains were reported in construction, an industry hard hit in the recession when Nevada's housing market imploded. Construction employment rose by 1,200 in February and been rising on average of 500 jobs per month over the last 12 months, Anderson said.

Jobs in the trade, transportation and utilities added 1,400 jobs, with all but 100 of those coming in the retail sector.

The level of manufacturing, leisure and hospitality and government jobs saw little change in the month.

Employment in education and health services shed 1,300 jobs in February, while Nevada's mining industry lost 300 jobs from January.

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