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How far down the unemployment hole can we go?

More Nevadans are out of work now than during any other time since the state began keeping records. And the situation is even worse here in Las Vegas.
/ Source: KSNV

More Nevadans are out of work now than during any other time since the state began keeping records. And the situation is even worse here in Las Vegas.

Statewide during the month of July, the jobless rate climbed to 12.5 percent. But the rate in the Las Vegas metropolitan area has now passed 13 percent, well above the national average of 9.4 percent.

So just what do these numbers mean to the people they represent? News 3's puts it all into perspective.

"If we're looking at the monthly unemployment data, you don't see the positives," says Dr. Keith Schwer, UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research.

In fact, Dr. Schwer thinks our local economy is only going to get worse. And the numbers agree with him as Nevada's unemployment rate reaches a record high for July.

"We will recover more slowly than the national economy."

The very industry which helped bring record growth to our valley is hurting the most during this recession. Construction workers who can are leaving town, headed toward other sates where work is available.

"You do see workers leaving, which results in a population loss, which results in less income in the community," explains Dr. Schwer. "So a declining construction sector then drags the overall economy down further."

But how much further down this hole can we go? Mae Worthey with the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation says no one knows the answer to this question.

"Obviously, Nevada did not get to a 12.5 percent unemployment rate overnight, so it's going to take some time for us to rebound and get back to the days of record employment growth."

Worthey adds that the unemployment rate is always the last to rebound during a bad economy.

Right now, thousands of Nevadans are collecting unemployment; the state is poised to run out of money if it keeps paying benefits to everyone who needs them.

"It's very discouraging to know that you've been out there pounding the pavement looking for a job and still no luck," Worthey continues. "And now, you can be running out of your unemployment benefits."

A person can qualify for up to 79 weeks of unemployment benefits. At last count, Worthey says there were more than 1,800 people who were maxed out. And now, they have no where else to turn.

"There are people who are exhausting (their benefits) because they have been out of work just that long."

Right now, Worthey doesn't know of any additional unemployment benefit extensions coming from the state or federal government. However, in the coming months, Nevada can expect an increase in the number of people exceeding their benefit limits.

California also set a new record for unemployment with nearly 12 percent of its population out of work. About 87,000 Californians lost their jobs during the month of July alone.