The following are Washoe County (unless otherwise indicated as NV or US) economic indicators for the latest available period (August 2011 unless otherwise indicated). This includes general, tourism and employment indicators. Data is provided for the latest available period, the period immediately prior to the latest period and the data for the same period the year before. For example, Visitor Count data, available for August 2011 (current period) is compared to July 2011 data (previous period) and August 2010 (same period previous year).
General Washoe County indicators show a continuous decrease in population, which is in part due to the out-migration of unemployed workers from the area in search of employment. This decrease is lower than the 3.5% drop in population between 2009 and 2010 from 416,632 to 402,001.
The good news is the growth in State personal income and Washoe County taxable sales and taxable gaming revenue numbers, which grew from the previous period and same period last year. Growth in personal income is important as it will encourage additional spending in the economy and increasing taxable sales and gaming revenue will generate additional revenue for the local governments through increased tax revenue and positive impacts on local businesses.
The bad news is that County property assessed values continue to decrease, generating lower levels of property tax revenue which is a major source of local government funding. Also, consumer price index increased by almost 4% over the last year, indicating that products are becoming more expensive.
Washoe County’s economy depends heavily on tourism. Visitors to the area gamble, eat, drink, shop and visit entertainment venues in the area, spending money that would not otherwise exist in the economy. In addition to generating revenue for local businesses, tourists create jobs and public sector revenue in terms of room tax, sales tax, and gaming tax revenue.
Tourism indicators are highly seasonal, changing from month to month. As a result, comparing the current period to the previous period may not be a good indicator of growth or decline, the comparison of the same period in current and previous year is more accurate.
Above table shows that indicators fell between July and August, it is difficult to tell what portion of that decline was due to seasonality versus the economic health of the region. However, compared to August 2010, all indicators, with the exception of available rooms, increased by a large percentage.
Employment is an important component of a successful economy. Employed workers receive a salary which they spend on purchases of goods and services, housing, and other expenditures. This spending ripples through the economy, creating additional jobs and productivity. High unemployment hurts not only the unemployed workers, but also those who are employed by lowering the amount of spending in the economy.
Washoe County’s employment is showing some signs of uncertainty. While the County lost almost 3% of its labor force from the same period last year, likely due to discouraged workers exiting the labor force through early retirement or leaving the area, it gained a few employees between July and August 2011. The number of unemployed persons, which declined significantly between August 2010 and 2011, increased slightly between July and August 2011.
The overall unemployment rate, which takes into account unemployed and labor force numbers, declined over the last year and remained stable between July and August and the number of new unemployment claims across the State decreased both over the last month and last year. However, the average weekly rate decreased significantly between July and August 2011, though it increased over the year. Overall, the employment situation has improved from the last year, though the decrease in the average weekly rate in the last month is a concern.
Overall, the economic situation in Washoe County, as shown by above general, tourism and employment indicators, has improved slightly from the same time last year, though some indicators are still negative. One of the biggest issues facing the County is the negative real estate market, which will be discussed in future blogs.