Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Hearing that Nevada ranks drastically below other metro areas in the number of legislators working here may leave some Silver State residents cheering.
But other findings in an analysis of recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data aren’t likely to prompt much celebrating.
The data show that Nevada’s workforce and economy are out of balance — although we’re doing extremely well in the gaming and hospitality fields, which is a healthy sign, we’re disconcertingly light in such areas as education, technology and health care.
Those findings come from comparing Clark County to metro areas nationwide focusing on a ratio measuring the concentration of workers in 36 different employment categories. The ratio, known as the Location Quotient, calculates the local concentration of workers in various categories compared to that of the U.S. as a whole. So an LQ of 100 percent means that the local workforce in that category is exactly what you’d expect to see in any other community. The higher the number, the bigger the local workforce comparatively, while anything less than 100 percent means a relative shortage.
Las Vegas has 1,960 percent more dancers than the average community, but 22 percent fewer elementary school teachers. The shortage is even greater among preschool teachers — 25 percent.
There are 315 percent more bartenders than average, but 30 percent fewer medical and health service managers.
There are 937 percent more baggage porters and bellhops, but a whopping 84 percent fewer mechanical engineers.
The whole list is below. Other shortage areas include chemists, computer and mathematical occupations, social scientists and related workers, and architects.
Oh, and legislators? We have 89 percent fewer than the average community. No doubt, that will generate a snide comment or two.
But those relatively few and proud lawmakers should pay attention to such statistics. They underscore the ongoing need to end an over-reliance on gaming/tourism and mining, which have left Nevada susceptible to boom and busts throughout our history.
The statistics offer a strong argument against those who believe Nevada is adequately funding its education system, or who oppose tax exemptions for businesses in STEM areas, such as the Tesla Gigafactory near Reno-Sparks or the Faraday Future plant in North Las Vegas.
Improving education, enticing new employers and recruiting qualified professionals all go hand in hand. A strong education system is a huge benefit for business operators, and not just because it helps provide them with skilled workers. It also helps in recruiting and retaining a workforce, since people gravitate toward places where their kids can get a good education.
Clearly, we’ve proven plenty effective in attracting dancers, dealers and the like. And that’s great, because it shows that our tourism and gaming economy is strong. But as the statistics suggest, we’ve got a long way to go to diversify our workforce and protect ourselves from another 2008-like crash.
Occupation and Location Quotient
Legislators, 11 percent
Mechanical engineers, 16 percent
Statisticians, 27 percent
Chemists, 33 percent
Electrical engineers, 34 percent
Urban regional planners, 42 percent
Social scientists and related workers, 45 percent
Fundraisers, 45 percent
Computer systems analysts, 45 percent
Computer and mathematical occupations, 46 percent
Architects, 48 percent
Librarians, 51 percent
Accountants and auditors, 69 percent
Medical and health service managers, 75 percent
Education administrators, elementary and secondary, 75 percent
Elementary school teachers, 78 percent
Lawyers, 100 percent
Advertising and promotion managers, 136 percent
Marriage and family therapists, 146 percent
Anthropologists and archaeologists, 150 percent
Telemarketers, 179 percent
Hydrologists, 202 percent
Forensic science technicians, 205 percent
Laundry/dry cleaning workers, 217 percent
Bartenders, 315 percent
Chefs and head cooks, 329 percent
Ushers/ticket takers, 341 percent
Plasterers and stucco masons, 480 percent
Food preparers and servers, 610 percent
Baggage porters and bellhops, 937 percent
Taxi drivers/chauffeurs, 968 percent
Gaming managers, 1,580 percent
Gaming cage workers, 1,801 percent
Dancers, 1,960 percent
Gaming dealers, 3,165 percent
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 metropolitan and nonmetropolitan area occupational employment and wage estimates