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Area Job Growth Tops Nation, Wages Not Keeping Up (Subscriber Content)

By John Seelmeyer
Published: Last Updated on
The Tesla Gigafactory under construction. Image: Bob Conrad.

The Tesla Gigafactory under construction. Image: Bob Conrad.

By John Seelmeyer

Reno and Sparks have been creating new jobs at a faster pace than any other metropolitan area in the United States, and the region’s overall economic performance ranks 11th in the nation.

The Milken Institute, a research nonprofit headquartered at Santa Monica, Calif., said strong jobs growth — generated, largely, by Tesla’s Gigafactory — vaulted Reno upward in the rankings.

A year ago, Milken ranked the region’s job growth at 28th in the nation, and its overall economy was ranked 37th strongest.

But the study also noted that wages are not increasing as rapidly as jobs in the region.

Over the past five years, the Reno-Sparks region ranked 52nd in the nation in wage and salary growth, researchers found. But the wages may be taking off, as The Milken Institute found that the region’s wage growth recently has been 10th strongest in the nation.

Lagging wage growth has been cited as one of the big reasons that many residents of Reno and Sparks can’t afford housing. New jobs attract newcomers to the region, pushing up the demand and price for housing. But wages haven’t kept pace.

Despite the strong overall economic performance, the Milken Institute researchers found that high-tech industries continue to play a relatively modest role in the region’s economy.
The Milken researchers took a look at the total economic activity in the region, then figured how much of it was created by technology firms.

On that measurement, Reno ranks 136th in the country, a level that hasn’t changed much in recent years.

The Milken study covered the 200 largest metro areas in the country. It found the best economic performers are Provo, Utah, and San Jose, Calif. Youngtown, Ohio, ranks at the bottom. Las Vegas ranks 23rd.

John Seelmeyer is a business writer and editor in Reno. In his 40-year career, he has edited publications in Nevada, Colorado and California and written several thousand published articles about business and finance.

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