LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada posted the highest unemployment rate in the nation for the second straight month, according to January statistics released by the state.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate — 5.5% — was the same as December’s rate, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

That makes Nevada’s rate much higher than the next-highest state — Oregon at 4.8%. Illinois (4.6%), Delaware (4.6%) and Washington (4.5%) rounded out the top five highest rates in the nation. Nevada and Oregon had been tied for the nation’s highest rate in November.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 12,020 in January, 68 more than were filed in December, DETR reported. A year ago, 12,608 initial claims were filed.

The labor force in Nevada is currently 1,569,436 people, which has increased by 1,117 people since December, and increased by 62,988 people since 2022.

“This report shows Nevada has recovered from the COVID recession and is continuing to add jobs at a brisk pace. Except for the leisure and hospitality industry, every sector of our economy employs more people than before the pandemic, and every single industry is showing growth over the past year. Our unemployment rate is high as is the total number of job openings in the state, reflecting an ongoing tight labor market,” said David Schmidt, DETR’s chief economist.

DETR’s monthly report focuses on the total number of jobs, and those statistics show job growth of 0.3% in Nevada over the past month, and 6% over the past year.

The unemployment rate for the Las Vegas metro area was not released on Thursday, but statistics show almost all of the state’s job growth happened here. The metro area has added about 4,000 jobs over the past month.

The higher unemployment rates are happening as DETR continues to work through an enormous backlog of cases, including 33,000 appeals and 13,486 adjudications. DETR Director Chris Sewell told Nevada Lawmakers on Tuesday it will take four months to work through just the adjudications.

The agency is also preparing to begin a major modernization of computer systems, but still at least a year away from starting on the part that will handle unemployment benefits.