Carson mayor rejects report’s low view of city
January 27, 2012
A report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors is listing Carson City as having the worst job outlook in the country – and that has the mayor calling phooey.
The report by IHS Global Insight states that Carson City can expect a 1.1 percent drop in the number of jobs by the end of the year, a difference of 300 jobs and a return to the levels seen at the depths of the recession.
But Mayor Bob Crowell points to other indicators to back up a more optimistic look at the city’s future. In a written statement, Crowell cites a recent study by Coldwell Banker that suggests, “Carson City may well have turned the corner economically” as vacancy rates, particularly in manufacturing, continue to decline, though he acknowledges they are still high.
He also cites a Fiserv Case-Shiller Index, which tracks home prices in more than 3,000 ZIP codes, that puts Carson City among the top cities in the nation that are expected to see real property appreciation in the next five years.
“That doesn’t happen in an area projected to see no short-term economic growth as suggested by the IHS report,” Crowell wrote.
The mayor said in an interview Tuesday that he was stunned at seeing Carson City at the bottom of the list and wanted to rebut the characterization of his city.
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“We don’t need an image blow coming like this on national news,” he said.
The IHS report did not forecast property values but did note that Carson City’s average existing home price dropped by 13 percent, or more than $20,000, between the end of 2010 and 2011.
But Crowell saved his harshest words for some national media reports said attributed Carson City’s slump in part to the laying off of 600 workers – an impossibility, Crowell noted.
“While it is true that in the last three years or so Carson City has reduced its labor force by around 100 positions and cut its budget by just north of 20 percent, it is also true that Carson City only has around 562 employees, making it rather impossible to lay off 600 employees,” he wrote.
He noted that the figure may have been erroneous because of the way layoffs are reported: Because Carson City is the capital, state government layoffs are listed as layoffs in Carson City, he wrote.
But he questioned even that, citing a Las Vegas Sun article stating that only 37 state employees were laid off in 2011. Further, he wrote, about half of the city’s workforce resides elsewhere, meaning that a layoff is counted toward the city’s unemployment rate, even if it isn’t here.
“While a job lost is a job lost no matter where the employee resides, unemployment figures alone do not fully explain the state of our local economy without more analysis,” Crowell wrote.