Carson Conversation: Strong economy continues in Carson City (Voices)

Ronni Hannaman is executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.

Ronni Hannaman is executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce. Courtesy Photo

As just about everywhere within the state and the entire U.S., some Carson City businesses are finding it difficult to attract/retain employees. The lament no longer seems to be finding “qualified” employees, it’s just finding anyone at all. And there are myriad reasons as to why there is a workforce shortage.

Yet, despite all the workforce shortcomings, Carson City still remains economically strong, with the exception of the hardest hit sector: hospitality and retail. Here there never has been an over-reliance on tourism, thus weathering economic downturns has been a bit easier since Carson City attracts those who want to work within government, keeping us at the top of the overall workforce pay scale.

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Carson City as having the highest mean hourly wage within the Metropolitan Statistical Areas in Nevada as of May 2020.

With a statewide salary mean of $24.21 per hour, Carson City comes in at a mean hourly wage of $26.07 per hour, compared to Reno at $24.75 and Las Vegas at $24.02.

As one would expect in most capital cities, jobs in government are plentiful and pay good wages as well as offering benefits and pensions not often found in private sector employment.

Regional workers commute daily from surrounding counties, bringing increased revenue as employees shop and dine within the city. Also, government jobs seem to be recession-proof even though there may be a temporary cutback on hours during the most trying times or vacant postings go unfilled temporarily.

The Army National Guard is headquartered here and is listed as the largest employer followed by #2 State Department of Corrections, #3 State Department of Transportation, and #4 Employment Security Division. The State Department of Motor Vehicles comes in at #6, followed by Legislative Counsel Bureau at #7 and Public & Behavioral Health at #8.

Carson Tahoe Health is the fifth largest employer. Manufacturers Click Bond ranks #10 and Chromalloy is #13, both of which have significant federal and aerospace contracts. The City of Carson City ranks #9; Carson City School District at #11; and Western Nevada College at #12. The top employer within hospitality is the Casino Fandango at #14.

Bottom line: Out of the 14 top local employers listed, three are private sector, and Carson Tahoe Health is a nonprofit. All the rest receive mostly taxpayer dollars to operate.

Thus, through the pandemic, Carson City did not suffer as much as those cities mostly dependent on hospitality. While government shut down physically, employees were able to work from home and receive paychecks and benefits. Some manufacturers had to retool to supply medical needs, but most were operational, though some had to temporarily reduce staff. As everywhere else, retail and hospitality took the brunt of the shut-down.

When the city crossed the 50,000-population mark in 2000, major retailers and developers found Carson City to be on their radar. As Carson City continues to add new housing bringing in more population, that radar signal is still strong as major companies look to grow recognizing the city as a regional hub.

“Carson Conversation” is a monthly NNBW Voices column authored by Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce. Reach her for comment at


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