With the casino industry recovering from a COVID-19 slump, the Las Vegas Valley had the second highest unemployment rate in the nation in April, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the metropolitan area that includes Las Vegas, Henderson, and Paradise, the April jobless rate was 9 percent, according to figures released this week. The Strip’s largest casinos are outside Las Vegas city limits in Paradise.
Los Angeles was the only large metropolitan area in April with more unemployment than Las Vegas. The rate in the Los Angeles metropolitan area was 9.9 percent. That area includes Anaheim and Long Beach.
Los Angeles and Las Vegas are in the large metropolitan category that includes 51 areas with a population of 1 million or more. Overall, the nation has 389 metropolitan areas of varying sizes.
The large metropolitan area with the lowest unemployment was Birmingham-Hoover, Ala., at 2.7 percent. That area was followed by Salt Lake City, Utah, where the unemployment rate was 2.9 percent.
The Las Vegas figure was well below the unemployment rate of 34.2 percent last year, when COVID-19 infections were spiking in Nevada, according to the Wall Street Journal. That was the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
The Las Vegas unemployment rate is April was up slightly from the 8.8 percent in March, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The Las Vegas economy, heavily dependent upon tourism, began to tank at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
As COVID-19 cases soared, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) closed casinos in an effort to curb infections. In February 2020, one month before the pandemic hit, the unemployment rate in Las Vegas had been a low 3.6 percent.
After the March 2020 lockdown, the governor allowed casinos to reopen 11 weeks later with capacity restriction.
The Las Vegas economy continued to sputter last year, as concerns over COVID-19 kept large crowds away. A surge in shootings and other violent crimes on the Strip prompted some public officials to worry about the impact on tourism.
This year, with the national rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations and stimulus checks, tourism has begun to recover. Earlier in June, authorities allowed casinos to operate at full capacity.
For two straight months this spring, Las Vegas has seen more than two million visitors. McCarran International Airport also is experiencing an increase in passengers after being down by millions of travelers during the pandemic.
Casinos in Hiring Mode
With tourism rebounding, hotel-casinos in Las Vegas are conducting job fairs to attract employees.
Among those holding job fairs is Boyd Gaming, which owns casinos throughout the Las Vegas Valley. The company has held three job fairs so far, and has another one scheduled for June 10.
Boyd spokesman David Strow said the company is continuing to look for workers.
Hiring is certainly one of our biggest challenges right now, but we have been able to find quality candidates,” he said.
Casinos in other states, including Arkansas and Mississippi, also have held job fairs seeking to fill various positions, including cards dealers and kitchen personnel.
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