(Ron Knecht) – Nevada Business, The Decision Maker’s Magazine, has just produced its annual “How Nevada Stacks Up 2021” listing of insightful statistics. Herewith, my summary.
Education: Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Nevada ranks 50th in one magazine; and 46th among the states, according to another. These low rankings are overstated because they rest significantly on spending inputs in addition to student performance outputs. My research in previous years showed outputs-only ratings put Nevada between 40th and 45th, poor but not as dire as educrats claim.
Student achievement at grade levels shows Nevada students lose ground the longer they remain in our public schools, compared to the rest of the country. My previous research also showed Clark County lags the rest of the state in student achievement. Adult education levels are low here, but that is much due to the fact Nevada has a large number of immigrants from other states who average low completion levels.
Healthcare: The healthcare story is similar: outcome-based rankings (diabetes, drug deaths, low birthweights, obesity, smoking, etc.) are better than those for inputs (public funding, primary care providers, lack of health insurance, access and affordability, active physicians relative to population, etc.). Advocates for healthcare and education, of course, emphasize the very low inputs rankings because they are seeking more public subsidy, not optimal public policy.
Covid-19 cases and deaths per 100,000 of population are only slightly above national averages, even though our testing and vaccination rates are significantly lower than the national averages. Again, the problem is more severe in Clark County than elsewhere in Nevada.
Crime Rates: Nevada is tenth highest in total violent crimes relative to population, a poor ranking but one greatly improved over the last decade. We do better in total property crimes, with a 21st-place rating, only somewhat above national averages. These figures are raised by the large number of visitors to our state relative to our native population.
Employment, Incomes and Cost of Living: Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Governor Steve Sisolak drove state unemployment levels from a very low 3.6 percent in February 2020 to 28.7 percent in April 2020. As of June 2021, our rate was still 7.8 percent, versus a national average of 5.9 percent.
Trade, transportation and utilities; plus leisure and hospitality; each account for over 20 percent of Nevada employment. Professional and business services; government; and education and health services; each make up 10.5 percent to 14.5 percent.
Statewide annual average incomes, $60,365, are four percent below national levels. Our poverty rate is 12.5 percent; national levels are 10.5 percent. The value of $100 in Nevada is $102.56 versus the national average, but living costs are higher in the state’s two major urban counties.
Housing: Home values in the state’s urban areas, but not in most rural areas, have risen notably faster than the 15 percent national average the last year.
Tax Burden: Overall, Nevada is not a low-tax state for individuals, ranking 29th among the states. Our state business-tax climate, however, is seventh. Property taxes are tenth, corporate taxes are average, and sales taxes and unemployment insurance are very high.
Travel and tourism: Travel spending in our state declined 43 percent from 2019 to 2020, a hair greater than the 42 percent national fall. However, because travel and tourism is a larger fraction of our economy than that for other states, Nevada tax receipts for travel dropped 34 percent, while the national total fell only 26 percent.
Commercial gaming fell 34.6 percent here versus 31.3 percent nationally, but 2020 Nevada gaming revenue is a hugely bigger portion of our economy than that for any other state. Further, the very important convention attendance so important to our state has collapsed essentially to zero.
Business Rankings and Costs: One ranking of business environments puts Nevada 16th, and one of best states for business lists us 8th. We rank 10th for best states in which to start a small business.
Office and industrial lease rates are low in Reno relative to other major metropolitan areas in America’s Southwest. For Las Vegas, those rates are in the middle of the pack. Las Vegas retail lease rates are second lowest; Reno’s rates are more in the middle.