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Nev. jobless rate down to 9.6 percent in April

Sandra Chereb, Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Nevada's unemployment rate ticked down a notch in April to 9.6 percent as the state saw a gain of 5,600 nonfarm jobs from the month before, the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported Thursday.

The jobless rate is down 2 percentage points year-over-year. It's also down slightly from 9.7 percent in March.

But more than 132,000 people in the state are still out of work. Nevada long held the distinction of having the highest jobless rate in the country and recently has teetered at or near being the worst in the nation.

Nevada's April ranking won't be known until Friday, when states complete reporting of their latest statistics. The national jobless rate was 7.5 percent.

Bill Anderson, chief economist for the agency, said the private sector added 6,400 jobs while the public sector cut 800.

The jobless rate also dropped in the state's metro areas. Las Vegas' unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in April, down 0.2 percentage points. The rate in the Reno-Sparks area fell by 0.3 percentage points to 9.7 percent, while Carson City fell 0.5 percentage points to 10.1 percent.

Carson City is the only metro area in the state to have a double-digit jobless rate.

Elko's jobless rate was 5.6 percent.

"The continuing improvement in Nevada's economy is apparently encouraging more people to join the labor force, which has grown by 6,100 people since January," Anderson said in the report. He noted Nevada has added 22,700 new jobs over the past year, equating to a 2 percent rate of growth.

Leisure and hospitality, Nevada's largest employment sector, saw an increase of 2,100 jobs from March to April.

Education and health services gained 700 jobs, while financial activities increased by 600.

Public sector job losses of 800 were evenly split between state and local government.

"There is no doubt Nevada's economy is making strides in the right direction," the report said.

Economic recoveries in other states also are helping Nevada's healing.

"Improving fundamentals and a resurgence in Americans moving to sunnier states from the north is having a beneficial impact on Nevada's ailing housing market," the report said. Nevada's foreclosure rate in April was the highest in the nation.

"As the labor market continues to improve, Nevada could rapidly make up lost ground," the state report said, concluding that a "rising number of jobs and a falling unemployment rate nudged Nevada a step in the right direction."