Western Nevada Regional Wages Post Recession

Last week’s blog discussed the evolution of Western Nevada region’s[1] post recession economy in terms of its industry employment.  The blog discussed that in 2002, the region’s five largest employers were the Gaming, Retail, Health Care, Construction, and Manufacturing industries.  These industries made up 47% of all regional employment.  By 2013, this mix changed to Retail, Health Care, Gaming, Manufacturing, and Bars and Restaurants.  These industries made up approximately 46% of total regional employment.

[1] Includes Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, Storey, and Washoe counties.


Note: It should be noted that this list does not include all jobs in the region, a number of industries with low percentage of employment in the region (such as Mining) are excluded from the table.  The table is sorted by 2013 employment amounts.

As mentioned in last week’s blog, it is not only the number of jobs created by these industries that determines the region’s recovery and future success.  Wages paid for new jobs are also important.  For example, the Retail industry is now the biggest employer in the region.  However, wages paid by the Retail industry were $13.91 per hour in 2013, an 11% increase over the 2002 wage of $12.57.  Given a rule-of-thumb 3% annual inflation, the estimated 1.0% average annual increase for this industry over an 11-year period is well below inflation.  Additionally, this wage is less than the average hourly wage in 2013 for the State of Nevada of $21.22.  While it creates jobs and is necessary to provide services to the growing population, the Retail industry may not be an ideal candidate to target for future growth.

The Health Care industry, the second largest industry in the region, on the other hand had an average hourly wage of $25.13 in 2013, above the average State wage of $21.22.  The wage increased by an average of 2.3% per year since 2002, slightly lower than the inflation.  Giving the high wages in this industry, its growth through the recession, and its expected growth in the future, this is a good industry to target for expansion in the region.

The Gaming industry, the third largest industry in the region, had an average wage of $13.34 in 2013, an increase of an average of 1.7% per year since 2002, lower than the average inflation for the period.  Given this industry’s historic decline in employment, lower than average wages, and lack of expectation for future growth, this is not a good industry for targeted regional expansion.

The graph below shows average hourly wages for various industries in the region.  The graph shows that the average wages for the Management of Companies and Enterprises industry has significantly exceeded wages for all other industries, despite fluctuations between 2002 and 2013.  The average wage in 2013 for this industry of $60.10 was significantly higher than the State average of $21.22.  Wages in this industry grew by an average of 3.0% per year since 2002, in line with inflation.  This industry has the lowest employment of all regional industries considered in this analysis.  However, a positive growth trend exists for this industry, having gained 1,500 jobs or 82% of its employment between 2002 and 2013.  This industry deserves a second look to determine whether anything can be done to make the region more attractive to companies in this industry, thus encouraging future employment growth.


Other companies with wages of note are the Health Care industry, discussed above, and the Finance and Insurance; Professional and Technical Services; Government; Manufacturing; and Construction industries.  All of these industries had an average wage greater than the State average in 2013.  Similar to the Management of Companies and Enterprises industry, these industries should be considered for expansion, with an analysis for each industry to determine whether the region can be made more attractive for that industry to grow and hire more employees.

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