Carson City’s wages increased on average by a fifth the past two years, according to a report from Garner Economics LLC, reaching $19.66 per hour as 2012 ended.Though some hail that as progress and good news, there also was skepticism from an area economist.The report last month covered 372 U.S. metropolitan areas and showed that 70 percent, or 259 of them, had increases in wages between December 2010 and last December.After the data was adjusted for inflation the number with rising real purchasing power wages was just 159 metros, or 43 percent.At $19.66 hourly, Nevada’s capital city was behind both the national average of $23.87 and some other capital cities of the western U.S., but it was still among the 43 percent recording growth.With the unadjusted hike reported at 20 percent, the inflation adjusted growth for Carson City came in at 14.5 percent.Professor Elliott Parker, chairman of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Economics Department, speculated that problems from small numbers had come into play. “That doesn’t seem right to me at all,” he said. “I’m very skeptical that you would have seen growth like that.”He said data he found in another survey said Carson City’s hourly pay was $21.85 in May 2010, just a dime more a year later. “I’m just thinking we have a small numbers problem,” he said, noting wages have been flat in Nevada government and the private sector. The Garner report from the Georgia-based firm, which used U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, surfaced here when the Chamber of Commerce and Nevada Business Connections cited it in newsletters.“I just thought it was fascinating,” said Kris Holt, executive director at NBC.His organization and other Northern Nevada development groups work to attract business and manufacturing from other states. Holt said state capital cities in the region are among Carson City’s competitors.He cited Sacramento in California, Olympia in Washington, Salem in Oregon and Phoenix in Arizona.The report said Sacramento wages hit $25.83 last December, but two-year unadjusted growth was 5.3 percent and two-year inflation adjusted growth was just 0.5 percent.In Oregon’s capital of Salem, the wage was $20.85, the unadjusted growth 11.3 percent and the inflation adjusted growth 6.3 percent. To the north in Olympia, the wage was $23.33, unadjusted growth hit 4.7 percent but the inflation adjusted growth was zero.Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale in Arizona hit $23.42, but unadjusted growth was just 2.9 percent and the metro area there lost ground on an inflation adjusted basis. It was minus 1.7 percent.Also recorded by the report were the number of months with year-on-year growth. Carson City registered 21 of 24, trailing just Olympia among the state capitals that Holt mentioned. Olympia had 22 of 24. The others were Salem, 18 of 24; Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville in California with 14 of 24; and he Phoenix area, which trailed this group with increases in just half of the 24 months.Chamber Director Ronni Hannaman, who originally shared the $19.66 figure through Chamber communications, saw the news as upbeat. “It tells me, I think, that we’re growing,” she said. “We can certainly hold our own.”Hannaman said naysayers should recognize that Carson City “has always been on the radar” for people thinking of such things as moving a company here, living in and retiring to such a nice region.“What stopped us,” she said, noting it also stopped a lot of places, “was the recession. It’s going to take some time, plus patience and management” for recovery.
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