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Despite wage gains, Reno’s pricey (subscriber content)

By John Seelmeyer
Published: Last Updated on

Wages are going up in Reno and Sparks, but the region remains an expensive place for workers to live. Researchers at the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported a few weeks ago that the average wage in the Reno area earlier this year stood at $986 a week, just a hair under the statewide average of $992.

The researchers noted, too, that wages in the area have risen about 3 percent in the past year. That’s pretty close to the national average for wage growth.

But a deeper dive finds that the cost of living in Reno remains high compared with the average wages.

The state researchers found that the cost of living in Reno is the 38th highest of the 381 metropolitan areas in the nation. Housing costs are 40th highest.

Wages in the Reno-Sparks area, however, rank 111th among U.S. metro areas.

Next the researchers simply subtracted the cost-of-living ranking from the wage ranking to compare Reno to other cities. That subtraction — 111 minus 38 — gives Reno an affordability score of 73.

Compared with similar metro areas in the West, Reno is a bit more affordable than Boise, which has a score of 82, but much less affordable than the Provo-Orem area of Utah, which has a score of 37.

The place where living costs and wages are most out of whack? Asheville, N.C., which posts a score of 202. Pay in the North Carolina city averages $798 a week, nearly $200 less than Reno.

Wages go farthest in Beaumont, Texas, where wages average $1,172 a week and living costs are low.

In Reno, rising costs for housing keep workers from making much headway. The costs of rents were up about 2 percent in the past year, erasing much of their gains from pay raises.