The employment landscape in Southern Nevada has undergone a notable transformation since the onset of the pandemic. The total number of people employed in the region has been tracking at all-time highs, and by the mid-point of 2023 job counts stand at 1.13 million. Additionally, the area added 50,900 positions during the last year, an increase of 4.7 percent. The resiliency of the region’s economy is highlighted by the latest employment metrics.
However, the road to this recovery was marked by significant challenges. In Nevada, the pandemic’s impact was profound, particularly as the leisure and hospitality sector experienced the brunt of the impact as a result of business closures, reduced restaurant capacities and distance restrictions on public gatherings. Historically a leader in national job growth rankings, Nevada quickly fell to the bottom of the list in April 2020. The inflection point was about a year later (April 2021) when Nevada’s job growth began to surge, propelling the state to the second fastest growing employment base. This momentum continued for the subsequent 27 months, with Nevada consistently leading the rankings for 20 months. The state’s remarkable job growth not only recovered the 326,000 jobs lost during the pandemic by October 2021, but also added an additional 114,300 jobs beyond the pre-pandemic peak.
Despite the impressive job growth, Southern Nevada’s unemployment rate stands at 6.0 percent, over 1.5 times that of the national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. Notably, both local and national unemployment rates have increased from the previous year, largely as a result of a growing labor pool, which is welcome news as workers believe there is more opportunity today than years past.
While the job market has tightened, the result has put upward pressure on wages. Southern Nevada’s average weekly wage has been steadily growing and currently stands at $978. However, local area wages continue to track at below the national average, reflecting a discount of about 15 percent overall.
Nevada’s situation presents a unique paradox. As of late, the Silver State consistently ranks among the top in the nation in terms of annual job growth rate, a positive indicator of economic health. At the same time, Nevada holds the nation’s highest unemployment rate, a metric typically associated with economic weakness. This contradiction is at least partially attributable to the expansion of the labor force, reflecting a robust economy. Southern Nevada’s employment journey post-pandemic showcases an impressive recovery. This resurgence highlights both the resilience of the region’s economy and the pressing need for labor to support the positive trajectory.