Nevada economist sees job growth over next two years

A boom in resort construction will fuel a recovery in job growth for Nevada, according to the chief economist for Nevada's Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Bill Anderson said he projects job growth to be back at 5 percent annually by the end of this decade.

That is a solid recovery from the 1.4 percent increase in jobs for 2007, the slowest growth since 2002. The rate was 4.7 percent job growth in 2006 and 6.3 percent in 2005.

Anderson said 2009 should see an increase of about 3.2 percent as the economy recovers. By the end of 2010, he said, the 1.29 million jobs currently in the state should rise to 1.44 million.

"A developing mega-resort boom coupled with a likely improvement in the housing sector is the reason for this positive forecast," Anderson wrote in his report.

But he said he expects western Nevada, including Carson City and Washoe County, to take a little longer to recover.

"There is no apparent economic driver on the horizon to fill the shoes of the liquidity-induced housing boom and gaming is not an expanding industry in the area," he said.

He said an improvement in California's economy would help western Nevada.

By far the largest increase he projected is in the leisure and hospitality category - which includes casino resort employees. The 57,700 added jobs there would bring total employment in that category to more than 400,000. Anderson said the driving force there is projects including the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, which opens late this year, the Fontainebleau and Project City Center, which will open in 2009. He said those three resorts alone will add more than 12,000 hotel rooms to market.

The next largest gain would be in education and health services at 21,700 and trade, transportation and utilities at 20,100 more workers.

He said the construction industry will continue to lose jobs until mid-2009 when, Anderson believes, that sector of the economy will also turn around.

The report was issued Monday by DETR.

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