Healthcare, technology widen Carson jobs base
The job outlook in Carson City may be brightening and broadening in the coming decade.
If projections hold true, employment in the state capital should grow 1 percent annually until 2022 when it is expected to reach 31,446 jobs, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
At the same time, the economy should become more diversified.
At its peak in 2009 and 2010, when it employed roughly 8,000 local workers, state government accounted for nearly a third of all jobs in the city.
In 2013, state employment had dropped to about 6,400 workers and by 2022 its share of the local workforce should fall to a fifth, employing approximately 6,600 workers, according to DETR.
“You’re not going to see a quick turnaround in jobs in this area,” says Michael Salogga, manager of the Business Resource Information Center in Carson City. “The state is still recovering. And most people want to see less government, not more.”
Despite its past reliance on state government, Carson City’s economy is already more varied than Nevada’s two other urban areas.
“The two other (metropolitan statistical areas) are dependent on hospitality,” says Jeremey Hays, an economist with DETR. “Reno not as much as Las Vegas, but both more than Carson City.”
So what industries are growing and poised to fill in the gap left by slimmer state government?
Carson City’s next two biggest employers are education and health services as well as healthcare and social assistance. Both are projected to grow faster than the overall workforce, or 1.6 percent and 1.9 percent annually, respectively.
“Healthcare, healthcare technology, telemedicine,” says Rob Hooper, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority. “That will be the next wave of new types of jobs.”
Hooper says healthcare is now driving technology development in the San Francisco Bay Area, and he expects it to spill over to northern Nevada as businesspeople there look for a more affordable place to live and work.
“They’re young, they have families and they want to own their own home, which they can’t do in San Francisco,” says Hooper. “And we have everything they want. We’re being discovered now.”
Part of that healthcare dynamic, says Hooper, will be manufacturing, an industry the NNDA has largely focused on and which currently employs close to 2,600 workers in the capital.
DETR, though, projects the city’s manufacturing employment to grow below the average, about .3 percent annually, to reach 2,721 employees by 2022.
Still, if current trends portend the future, manufacturing is a key industry.
“We are seeing a lot of demand in manufacturing, for machine operators, light industrial,” says Joe Locurto, a business development manager in the Carson City office of Spherion, a staffing agency.
Locurto says there is also demand for office and administrative staff and for computer-savvy workers.
“People need to understand computers. Handhelds are used everywhere now,” says Locurto. “Some people fight it tooth and nail but people have to embrace technology to stay competitive.”
Another current industry trend in Carson City is retail. Retailers such as Sportsman Warehouse and Beall’s have recently flocked to the capital, filling in some of the long-vacant commercial space.
As a result, the city’s taxable sales have been climbing. In April, for example, the latest available numbers, taxable sales jumped 4.4 percent from the same month a year earlier to $66.3 million.
DETR projects retail employment to grow at about the same rate as overall employment and to employ 3,087 in 2020.
“Retail is not done yet. There are a lot of retailers looking to come here because they don’t want to be in the big city but they don’t want to be in the rurals,” says Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce. “Carson City has done well because we are diversified.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.