The latest jobs numbers are unlikely to find their way into any Harry Reid press releases.
As reported Saturday by the Nevada News Bureau, the state’s worst in the nation 14.3 percent unemployment rate for July has been significantly underestimated. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the actual unemployment rate in Nevada through the second quarter of 2010 is 21.5 percent.
The announced jobless rate reported over the same time frame was 13.1 percent, an 8.4 point difference.
The difference between the two numbers is due to the fact that the official jobless report only estimates unemployed workers who are actively seeking jobs. It does not include those who have become discouraged and given up searching, or workers employed part time for purely economic reasons.
Nearly 200,000 people are looking for work in Nevada.
The state’s record high unemployment rate, combined with Congressional approval last year of the $787 billion stimulus bill, have become key campaign issues in the Nevada Senate race.
Harry Reid has repeatedly defended the program, saying it has brought or will bring over $3 billion in federal funding to Nevada to create jobs and spur economic growth. Many Republicans are calling the stimulus act a failure, though, saying it has not made a dent in the state’s jobless rate and alleging that it is full of wasteful spending on questionable projects. One which has inspired eye-rolls locally is a tree-planting program in Clark County.
A spokesman for the National Senatorial Republican Committee told the Nevada News Bureau the law signed into effect in February 2009 has clearly failed and referred to some of the more wasteful projects funded by the stimulus:
“If you’re a monkey with a cocaine addiction or a smoker who needs a cell phone, this stimulus boondoggle has been a great success,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. “Unfortunately, if you’re a Nevada family struggling to make a mortgage payment, a worker trying to find a job or a young person who will ultimately be responsible for paying back the billions that Harry Reid has borrowed on the government credit card, the stimulus has been a stunning failure.”
Reid spokesman Kelly Steele this week defended the stimulus, saying it has prevented “Great Depression” levels of unemployment.
“Our economic times are still extremely tough and recovery certainly won’t happen overnight, but the very last thing Nevadans need is someone like Sharron Angle, who believes it’s not her job to get Nevadans back to work, would shred the safety net that puts food on their tables, and opposes Sen. Reid’s Wall Street reform that would ensure our current housing and foreclosure crisis will never happen again,” Steele said.
Staving off a second Great Depression would certainly be cause for celebration if anyone believed it, but polls show only one in four voters think the stimulus has been effective in saving or creating jobs.