Northern Nevada Economic Metrics

    Following is all the latest data for the Reno-Sparks Metro Statistical Area. Don’t hesitate to email Stat Pack co-publisher and RCG Economics Principal John Restrepo with questions at

    r stat highlights

    r positive

    r emp index

    The RCG Employment Index’s 12-month moving average (“12MMA”) for Reno-Sparks stalled at 99.1 in September, halting its general upward trend. The pace at which the Index had been increasing has likely slowed because it is now just 0.7 points away from the record high. The Index is up 1.2 points since September 2016. The Index peaked 11 years ago in December 2005 at 99.8. The trough of 89.6 occurred in January 2010.

    r job growth

    Reno-Sparks job growth on a 12MMA continues to trend down, falling 0.2 points in September from 3.6% to 3.4%. The rate of growth is 1.5 points lower than that recorded in September 2016. The lowest rate of growth in the last 10 years occurred in December 2009 (-9.3%). The region had surpassed its previous high mark of 3.7% achieved in December 2006, but has now fallen back down below this number and keeps slipping.

    After stalling at 4.3% in August, the 12MMA of the headline unemployment rate fell 0.1 points to 4.2% in September 2017. When compared to the September 2016 headline unemployment rate of 5.4%, this September’s rate was 1.2 percentage-points lower. For the sake of comparison, the headline unemployment rate in Las Vegas did not change for the month of September, holding at 5.1%. Reno’s unemployment rate continues to improve steadily and is very near rates seen before the Great Recession.

    r u3

    The U-3 unemployment rate, or headline rate, for Nevada saw its first uptick since Q2, 2016, rising by the same amount it did then: 0.2 points. The U-3 rate now sits at 5.2%, or 0.6 points above the average rate for 2007, the year the Great Recession hit. The U-6 rate fell just 0.1 points from 11.5% in Q2 to 11.4% in Q3, the smallest improvement in the U-6 rate since Q2 of 2015. Nevada’s U-6 rate is still the third highest in the nation, beating only New Mexico and Alaska. As shown in the chart, the spread between the two rates is generally tightening, indicating that wage increases will continue to solidify.

    In terms of the U-3 rate, Nevada slipped several places in Q3 and now has the 7th highest headline rate in the nation. In Q2 it was beating 13 other states.

    r yoy construction

    There were 82,708 construction jobs in Nevada recorded for September 2017. 15,025 of those were in the Reno-Sparks MSA (12MMA). This is 5.5% more than the 14,242 jobs reported the previous year in September 2016, and 62% of the peak (see below). Reno’s healthy economy has produced strong residential and commercial markets in the region, and this continues to benefit the construction sector.

    The latest stats show that 7.3% of the region’s payroll job-base is in construction, even with last month. Construction jobs in the Reno-Sparks MSA peaked at 24,042 in August 2006 on a 12MMA basis. At that time, the industry accounted for 11.1% of all jobs. However, construction jobs were artificially inflated due to the housing bubble. The sector continues to recover since bottoming out in February 2012 when there were only 8,792 construction jobs.

    r visitor volume

    September 2017 saw 424,158 visitors to Washoe County on a 12MMA basis. YOY growth in visitation to Washoe County continues to outpace growth in Clark County, where visitor growth continues to decline. In September 2017, YOY growth was 4.2%, a slight decrease from the 4.4% concerning the year period ending in August 2017. By comparison, the YOY growth rate in Las Vegas for the month of September was -0.8%. Reno had been lagging behind Las Vegas in visitor growth, but the tables have turned with YOY visitor growth rates in Washoe County beating those of Clark County every month since June 2016.

    Washoe County has now seen YOY growth in visitor volume every month for over 2½ straight years, since January 2015, at an average rate of 2.6%. The 12MMA peak occurred in May 2004, when 467,904 visitors came to Washoe. The highest annual growth rate occurred in January 2013, when visitor volume grew 5.8%. Despite earlier challenges, the Reno-Sparks hospitality industry has made important gains.

    r gross gaming

    Washoe County’s 12MMA YOY gross gaming revenue grew by 2.7% in September 2017. This brings total revenue up to $68.4 million, or 76% of the peak (see below). The YOY growth rate has been positive for over 2½ years straight at an average rate of 2.9%.

    Gaming revenues peaked 11 years ago in June 2006 at $89.4 million. On an annual growth rate basis, growth peaked at 5.5% in June 2006.

    r taxable retail

    While Washoe County’s economy continues to benefit from rising taxable retail sales, the YOY growth rate has fallen considerably from a year ago. In August 2017, the rate of growth was 6.3% YOY, or 4.3 points lower than the year period ending in August 2016. However, it is up 0.7 points when compared to the month prior. Taxable retail sales reached $677 million in August, having already surpassed, in March 2016, the previous peak on a nominal basis (not inflation-adjusted). As the chart shows, Washoe’s taxable sales growth in August is closing the gap with the state average. Last month it was 1.7 points behind, while this month Nevada’s lead has shrunk to just 0.4 points.

    Success in business attraction and retention is driving the region’s economy and is the primary cause of growth in taxable retail sales, though increasing visitation has also contributed.

    Note: It will be interesting to see how adult-use marijuana sales will pan out relative to the taxes they will generate. The first of month of reporting occurred this July, but there has been a delay in releasing the data to the public. While still small relative to Nevada’s revenue-base, we will begin tracking the contribution that these sales are making to the base as soon as the data are available, likely next month.

    r single family

    The Q3, 2017 median sales price of $349,000 for single-family home resales in the Reno-Sparks area represents an 11.9% jump YOY and a 5.1% increase compared to Q2, 2017. The Q3 median price is now approximately $41,736 (13.6%) greater than the $307,264 that would have resulted from using the 1990-2001 average annual appreciation rate of 4% per year. Last quarter the difference was $27,695. The Reno-Sparks median price is increasing rapidly. Housing affordability is a looming problem that should be monitored closely by public officials and community leaders for its potential negative impact on economic growth and business attraction.

    home resales

    MLS home resales in Washoe County rose to 564 units in September 2017 on a 12MMA basis. Compared to September 2016, this is an increase in resales of 5.3%. For more than 2½ straight years now home sales have been increasing on a YOY basis, and the rate of growth now appears to be generally on the rise. After what was a brief leveling-off home sales have picked up steam again. Over the last 4 months the average YOY growth rate is 5.7%, compared to 3% for the 4 months preceding. The median sales price rose to $326,147 (12MMA) in September, a 9% jump from September 2016. By comparison, the Las Vegas median resale price in August increased by 8.8% to $218,408. The looming affordability issue also applies to the resale market.

    r weekly earnings

    The 12MMA of the average weekly wage (not adjusted for inflation) in the Reno-Sparks MSA increased by $1 (0.08%) in September to $793. Despite the small increase, this is the third consecutive month where growth was positive, a good sign after 11 months of negative growth. When considered on a YOY basis the unadjusted weekly wage is down -2.8% from $816 in September 2016.

    The inflation-adjusted 12MMA wage of $683 is unchanged from the previous month’s real wage, putting it -4.8% lower than the $717 recorded in September 2016. In September, Reno-Sparks’ average weekly real earnings were 2.5% higher than the Las Vegas average of $666, but Reno-Sparks’ advantage continues to shrink. Where Las Vegas’ average weekly real earnings are improving, Reno-Sparks’ are headed in the opposite direction. Inflation-adjusted wages have experienced a significant 6.4% drop from the recent record high in May 2016 of $730.

    r weekly hours

    Accompanying a decreasing weekly wage in the Reno-Sparks MSA are stagnant weekly hours, which in September were again unchanged from the previous month at 35.9. This is the 3rd straight month that weekly hours have remained the same. However, the overall trend since September 2014 has been upward. When compared to September of last year, weekly hours are up 0.7 hours from 35.2. The 8-year peak occurred in July 2009 at 36.8 hours, while the trough (8-year) of 32.5 hours occurred 3 years ago in September 2014.

    r fuel

    The average price per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline in Reno-Sparks as of November 6, 2017 was $3.01, down $0.06 (-1.9%) from $3.07 the previous month. However, when compared to the previous year the price of regular unleaded is up $0.29 (10.5%). For comparison, gas in the Reno-Sparks MSA is $0.34 more expensive than in Las Vegas.

    According to AAA, “Moving into the week, the West Coast continues to lead the U.S. among most expensive markets. Six of the top ten most expensive markets in the country are found in this region: California ($3.21), Hawaii ($3.17), Alaska ($3.09), Washington ($2.94), Oregon ($2.79) and Nevada ($2.73) 

    In the EIA’s latest report, total gasoline stocks are below 28 million bbl, reaching a seven-week low at 27.6 million bbl. Additionally, EIA’s report showed that the refinery utilization rate of crude fell to 81.4 percent from 81.9 percent last week, which means less gasoline is being produced. With demand remaining high and supplies tightening in the region, prices are also being pushed up by these supply and demand factors.”

    r gold spot

    Per the World Gold Council, in October, the end-of-month spot price of gold (ounce of pure gold) fell less than $1 (-0.01%) to just over $1,245 on a 12MMA basis. After 14 straight months of increasing gold prices, 5 of the last 7 months have seen prices fall. On a YOY basis, the price of gold is up 1.2%. It peaked in December 2012 at $1,678. Prices have been increasing on a YOY basis for the past 13 months, though the YOY growth rate has been trending down and is now the lowest it has been since July 2016.

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