The economy of the Reno-Sparks area continues to cool from its once white-hot levels, but an economist who follows these things closely says there’s no indication the region is about to tip into a recession.
Eugenia Larmore, president of Ekay Economic Consultants Inc., says nearly all the data tracked by her firm — housing, construction, retail sales, employment and the like — continue to show an upswing in Washoe County.
But the pace of growth is slowing, much like a car that continues to make progress at 55 mph rather than 100 mph.
In 2016, Larmore says, her firm’s index of leading indicators increased by nearly 8 percent over the previous year. So far this year, the growth rate has been just a bit under 1 percent.
“Though the level of growth has declined, the region is still growing and is expecting to continue to grow into the near future as we continue to add jobs and expand businesses,” the economist says.
As the region’s economic growth cools from its torrid pace of a couple of years ago, Larmore says housing is becoming more affordable.
Incomes are rising and mortgage interest rates are falling, she says, and those two factors more than offset rising prices for homes and apartments. (The Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors just reported that median home prices rose 4 percent in the past year.)
The only negative in the local economy: Gaming revenues at Washoe County casinos have fallen for much of this year.
Still, Larmore notes that region’s economy is far more diverse than it was back when gaming and tourism ruled the roost. This year’s soft gaming revenues, she says, aren’t reason for alarm.
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.