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Gaming Guru

Kevin Rademacher

Las Vegas Hotel, Construction Jobs Pay More Than U.S. Average

31 August 2005

Workers in a majority of Las Vegas occupations earn more than the national average wage for their fields, but valley earnings still lag behind overall U.S. wages, according to researchers responsible for a new occupational wage index study.

The study -- authored by Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis and Urban Environmental Research LLC -- shows that the average wage in Las Vegas is $33,590, nearly 10 percent lower that the national average of $37,020.

Jeremy Aguero, a principal with Applied Analysis, said that the gap in overall wages does not consider the area's concentration of construction and hospitality jobs.

"The average wage may be lower, but the average worker is making more than the average nationwide," he said. "If a worker moves here and works in the hotel industry, that worker will make more here."

He said the study shows that -- because of the concentration of Las Vegas workers in those two dominant industries -- 57.8 percent of the occupations reporting wages in the Las Vegas area pay equal or more than the national average.

While the study showed that management positions in Las Vegas paid 97.5 percent of the national average, food preparation and service jobs here paid 112.6 percent of the national average.

Similarly, legal professionals in Las Vegas earn 87.6 percent of the national average while construction jobs pay 106.6 percent of the national average.

Las Vegas grounds keepers and maintenance workers get 108.1 percent of the national average.

Las Vegas computer and mathematical professionals make 78.5 percent of the national average.

Keith Schwer, a UNLV economist and director of the Center for Business and Economic Development, said the report's findings make sense.

One concern in the report is a relatively slow rate of wage growth. Only 45.1 percent of the occupations reporting had wage growth at or above the national average. The figure was 58.1 percent in 2003 and the current results tie the worst rate in the last five years.

Given the recent spike in cost of living in the Las Vegas Valley, pressure will increase for wages to keep pace, Schwer and Aguero agreed.

"If (wages) don't, then the economic well-being of workers in that industry will decline," Schwer said.

Aguero said wages should jump in next year's report.

"We are expecting to see some very substantial increases in wages across every sector," he said. "The cost of living has gone up, in particular the cost of housing. With the unemployment rate under 5 percent, that pressure is particularly strong."