Nevada Forecast to Lose 66K Jobs from Pandemic, State Projected As Hardest Hit

Posted on: March 23, 2020, 12:59h. 

Last updated on: March 23, 2020, 03:18h.

Nevada is expected to see the largest percentage of its workforce reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevada coronavirus Las Vegas Strip
With the Las Vegas Strip and all casinos closed in the state, Nevada is suffering greatly from the coronavirus. (Image: Ed Komenda/Reno Gazette Journal)

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) says in its job-loss projections report that Nevada stands to lose 5.3 percent of its private-sector workforce, or 66,656 jobs. Nevada relies on tourism more than any other state, and with its casino resorts closed for the foreseeable future, layoffs are expected.

“Workers in certain industries will be disproportionately affected – in particular, workers in food service, accommodations, and brick-and-mortar retail. As a result, states where these industries make up a larger share of employment, such as Florida, Hawaii, and Nevada, will be particularly hard hit,” the EPI said.

In Nevada, where two out of every five jobs are in leisure, hospitality, or retail, the state will likely lose 5.3 private of private-sector jobs,” the report concluded.

As of January, 355,300 Nevadans were employed in the leisure and hospitality sector. That accounts for about 25 percent of the Silver State’s total labor market.

Hawaii (-5.1 percent) is the only other state the EPI projects will lose more than five percent of its private-sector jobs. The best-case scenario is in Pennsylvania, where the Keystone State is expected to lose 3.8 percent of its workforce.

Virus Deadly to Gaming Industry

The coronavirus has infected 33,404 US residents, per the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The respiratory disease is responsible for 400 deaths in the country.

With all non-essential businesses closed in Nevada, casino workers are being laid off or furloughed. MGM Resorts, Nevada’s largest employer, announced a reduction to its workforce prior to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) mandatory closure of all casinos.

“These decisions are never made lightly, and we deeply regret the hardship it will place on these individuals and their families,” Bill Hornbuckle, now the acting CEO of MGM, wrote in a letter to employees.

Unite Here, the labor union that represents 300,000 members working in the airlines, hotels, and food service industries, including the Culinary Union in Las Vegas and its 60,000 casino employees, says up to 90 percent of its members will be without work.

“We have vast numbers of workers in the hospitality industry across America who are potentially losing jobs through layoffs,” Unite Here International President D. Taylor said.

“Workers face potential loss of their health care, they will require food security assistance, they’ll face housing insecurity. Workers generally still don’t have sick leave available to them. All of these issues must be addressed immediately,” Taylor added.

Negative Forecasts

The American Gaming Association says the US economy could miss out on $21.3 billion in economic activity from the gaming industry during the pandemic. That, along with nearly every industry hurting, could lead to a severe recession.

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of The International Monetary Fund (IMF), said Monday she anticipates negative global growth in 2020.

“But we expect recovering in 2021,” Georgieva added. “To get there, it is paramount to prioritize containment and strength in health systems – everywhere. The economic impact is and will be severe, but the faster the virus stops, the quicker and stronger the recovery will be.”