The first part of 2022 continued the trends of the prior year. Importantly, visitation to Las Vegas continued to recover, with over 36.4 million people opting to travel to the area over the past 12 months. These visitation figures, along with peak taxable retail sales of nearly $57.8 billion for the past year, have been aided in large part by the calendar of events in Southern Nevada and strong consumer spending. Allegiant Stadium, which officially hosted the first NFL crowds in 2021, led the way as a number of special events rolled out. Major events included Concacaf Gold Cup Final, Leagues Cup Final, the Pac-12 Football Championship Game and NFL Pro Bowl. Southern Nevada also hosted the 2022 NFL Draft in April 2022. Beyond the conventions that returned in early 2022, broader economic recovery within the region helped stabilize the overall employment base.
Nevada’s employment reached 1,048,000 in April 2022 (latest available). This is the highest the area has seen since the COVID-19 pandemic and is just 15,400 jobs below the pre-COVID peak. Overall, 98,200 jobs returned over the past 12 months, with every sector of the local economy reporting job gains. Leisure and hospitality led the employment recovery, adding 46,500 jobs over the past year. This was followed by professional and business services (+21,600 jobs), trade, transportation and utilities (+16,200 jobs), financial activities (+3,900 jobs), manufacturing (+2,200 jobs), government (+2,100 jobs), education and health services (+2,000 jobs), construction (+1,800 jobs), information (+1,100 jobs) and other services (+800 jobs).
These job gains have helped to substantially lower Southern Nevada’s unemployment rate, which hit a peak of 31.1 percent in April 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns—the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Southern Nevada’s economy has seemingly recovered from that historical high and now rests at 5.0 percent. Although, this latest unemployment rate is still slightly above the pre-COVID low of 3.8 percent in February 2020, the region’s tourism recovery paired with the area’s focus on diversification should continue to help this rate edge down, barring broader economic headwinds.
Additionally, local average weekly wages are on the rise for Southern Nevada. As of April 2022, average weekly wages for the region reached $975, the highest the area has seen historically. Year-over-year wages increased at a rate of 9.2 percent, which is more than double the national average growth rate of 4.2 percent. When looking at the statewide wage growth by industry, the areas that have experienced the largest annual growth rates are leisure and hospitality (+13.2 percent), professional and business services (+11.0 percent) and financial activities (+10.0 percent).
Southern Nevada’s economy was hit the hardest as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns but has shown tremendous resiliency over the last two years. The region’s employment recovery is on the verge of being back to pre-COVID levels with job growth happening in all sectors of the economy, and the region is continuing to show signs of positive gains for the balance of the year.