Nevada wages lag behind inflation, report says

Nevada is slowly crawling out of a deep unemployment pit, adding jobs in a state that lost nearly 200,000 during the Great Recession.

But a report Friday by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said one troubling trend has yet to rebound: Wages have not kept pace with inflation.

Private-sector weekly wages averaged $824 during the first three months of the year, unchanged from a year ago.

“Since 2007, average weekly wages have grown just 5 percent, well short of that necessary to keep up with inflation,” said the report by Bill Anderson, the agency’s chief economist. “Furthermore, over the same period, wages at the national level rose 12 percent.

“Arguably, these wage trends are perhaps the most concerning part of the overall labor market picture in Nevada.”

The labor market analysis generally is released along with monthly unemployment reports, but the September statistics on Nevada’s jobless were delayed by the 16-day federal government shutdown.

Still, Anderson said, Nevada’s economy remains on a path of modest, sustainable improvement, as evidenced by 37 months of improved sales tax revenues and a small overall uptick in averaged gambling revenues despite month-to-month fluctuations in casino winnings.

Las Vegas visitor volume also is on pace to hold steady with last year’s record 39.7 million people who took in the Silver State’s glitzy tourism mecca.

Another encouraging trend is growth in the number of employers. Prior to the economic downturn, Nevada had 60,500 employers. That figure bottomed out at 56,000 at the height of the recession, the report said.

The number of employers has risen in eight consecutive quarters and was at 57,600 in the second quarter of 2013.

Nevada’s jobless rate peaked at 13.8 percent in 2010 and so far this year averages 9.7 percent.

Anderson projected the state’s jobless rate will improve to about 8.8 percent by 2015.


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