Livable wage more relevant in Carson than minimum wage

It would be easy to feign outrage at the Senate's rejection of an increase in the minimum wage, which has been stuck at $5.15 per hour for a decade.

But the truth is, for Northern Nevada it's really not that big of a deal.

Even fast food workers make well above minimum here, where a tight labor market means it's not that hard to land a job. If you're an employer paying minimum wage, or even $7.25 - which was the increase proposed by Democrats - you're not going to find many good employees.

Here, a term of more concern than "minimum wage" is "livable wage."

About 25 percent of Carson City's households earn less than $25,000, according to a recent regional economic report. The report found the new jobs being created in Carson City are lower paying, partly due to the prevalence of jobs created by hospitality and leisure businesses. Those jobs pay an average of $17,000, well above the minimum wage. The creation of those jobs is not a bad thing, even though it would be a stretch to say what they pay constitutes a living wage for households that rely on them alone.

The concern is that there are few higher paying jobs being created here, and those jobs are a true measure of a community's economic vitality.

Those jobs would be filled by young professionals who would, in turn, buy homes, send their children to local schools and contribute a great deal to the local economy. Maybe they'd start businesses of their own and create more high-paying jobs.

That's where the report brings out some real concerns for Carson City.

Even if a company wanted to expand or locate here offering those jobs, they might not be able to find workers to fill them. The study found that 19 percent of our residents have bachelor's degrees, well below the national average of 27 percent. What that means is if you're an employer looking for a place to locate or expand, Carson City may not rank high on your list.

The ability of the city's leaders to attract those businesses and professionals will be vital in shaping how the Carson City of the future will look.


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