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Researchers: Reno’s a leading boomtown (Subscriber Content)

By John Seelmeyer

Researchers at GOBankingRates, a personal-finance Web site, reported a few days ago that they consider the Reno-Sparks region to be one of the most promising boomtowns in the nation. In fact, the researchers ranked Reno sixth in its listing of 30 mid-sized cities that folks might consider as a place to make more money.

One of the main reasons that the Reno area ranked so high in the Web site’s list of national boomtowns was the growth in its gross domestic product — the value of all the goods and services produced in the region.

The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, which keeps track of these things, says the GDP of the Reno-Sparks region was $26.6 billion in 2017.  

That’s an increase of about 36 percent since 2012 — a growth rate that’s twice as fast as the average for the 383 metropolitan areas in the United States.

Looked at another way, the economy of the Reno-Sparks region is punching above its weight class.

With about 470,000 people living in the region, Reno-Sparks ranks No. 113 in population among the nation’s metropolitan regions. But its economic production ranks it No. 101.

Anyone who drives around Reno and Sparks quickly gets a pretty good idea what’s driving the region’s economy, but the federal researchers quantify it, down to two decimal points.

They start with an estimate that the GDP of the Reno-Sparks area grew by 5.6 percent in 2017.

Out of that 5.6 percent, growth in manufacturing output accounted for 1.05 percentage points, or about a fifth of the economic growth.

Growth in construction added another 0.98 percent, while expansion in trade (including all those big new distribution centers) contributed 0.66 percent.

Other industries ranging from professional services to education also made smaller contributions.

Residents, researchers find, are sharing in the growing wealth.

Per-capita personal income in the region stood at $55,460 last year, the Bureau of Economic Statistics says.

That’s an increase of 6.6 percent from the $52,018 recorded a year earlier — and it means that the region ranks sixth among the nation’s cities in the speed at which per-capita personal income is growing.

For all of Reno’s reputation as a low-pay town, the federal statistics show that personal income in Reno averages about $5,000 more than the national average of $51,640. In fact, Reno ranks 42nd among metro areas in per-capita personal income.

If you’ve ever wondered where people in Reno make their money, the BEA has estimated that, too.  

Among the biggest sources of individuals’ income, wages and salaries account for about 44 percent. The dividends, interest and rents that folks get from their investments account for nearly 30 percent of personal income in the area. Other sources of income include self-employment as well as government payments such as Social Security benefits.

The downside that GoBankingRates discovered about Reno? The population increased by 5.9 percent from 2012 through 2017, but housing supplies increased by only 3.6 percent. That, as residents already know, pushed both demand and prices upward.