The end of 2021 signaled a tale of two years, one ravaged by unprecedented economic shock and the other steadily rebounding in its aftermath. The availability of vaccines to Nevadans on April 5, 2021 proved to be a powerful tool in combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus. To date, more than one million people have been fully vaccinated in Clark County. Despite the evolving health crisis, Nevada’s economy fared relatively well in 2021 as the tourism industry’s recovery started to take hold and other sectors provided a stabilizing force.
Employment in Southern Nevada demonstrated impressive gains at the end of the year. Some of the workers that were displaced in the pandemic nearly two years ago are not returning to the jobs that they previously occupied. Thus, businesses are finding it difficult to operate with fewer employees. Despite these roadblocks, the labor force is making a steady comeback in Southern Nevada. Over the past year, 80,000 jobs were added back in Southern Nevada.
Layered within this job growth are impressive gains in many of the valley’s major job sectors. For instance, the leisure and hospitality industry gained 35,000 jobs over the course of the year. These vital employees welcomed over 32.2 million visitors Las Vegas in 2021, boosting the local economy and bringing back stability to the tourism environment. The professional and business services sector added 19,600 jobs, while the trade, transportation and utilities sector added 12,100 jobs. Government and construction were the only two industries to decrease in employment over the past year, both losing 200 jobs.
Average weekly wages and hours worked also rose over the past year. In Southern Nevada, employees are making 9.2 percent more per week than they did a year ago with the December average weekly wage at $946. In comparison, the United States average weekly wage is $1,086, but has only grown 4.7 percent over the past year. Despite the lower wages in Southern Nevada, the local growth rate is nearly double the national average. Possibly as a result of higher wages or less available workers, Southern Nevadans are working more hours per week than they did in 2020. In December, the average hours worked per week was 35.3 hours, which has steadily grown since September.
Employment growth is expected to trend in a positive direction in 2022. Notable construction projects such as Fontainebleau, the Madison Square Garden Sphere, Henderson’s Dollar Loan Center and UNLV’s new medical school are expected to provide demand in the construction sector and longer-term operational employment opportunities.