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October 22, 2017

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Tesla helps boost state jobs projections

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The steel frame is seen under construction at the new Tesla Motors Inc., Gigafactory, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, in Sparks, Nev. It’s Tesla Motors biggest bet yet: a massive, $5 billion factory in the Nevada desert that could almost double the world’s production of lithium-ion batteries by 2018. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

High wages and job growth have helped push the state’s revenue projections up by millions of dollars for the next two years.

State economists released new numbers this week that say the state could expect the next two years of revenue to be about $96 million higher than previously estimated. Lawmakers have a little more than a month to incorporate the data as they work to complete the budget before adjourning June 5.

Employment is hovering at record-high levels and average weekly wages are breaking records, said Bill Anderson, chief economist of the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation.

“We got hit harder, but we’re performing a lot stronger as we continue to come out of the recession,” he said on Monday during the Economic Forum’s meeting.

The state’s job growth through 2019 is expected to reach an average of about 38,000 to 40,000 per year, Anderson said.

Projections are based on history and upcoming projects, he said, with manufacturing growth driven by Tesla in Northern Nevada.

Other construction expected to have an impact are the NFL stadium in Las Vegas, resort projects on the Strip and expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center, Anderson said.

In the technology sector, Switch and Apple are expanding their Nevada operations, Anderson said.

“By the time we get out to the end of 2019, we will have kind of blown past that pre-recessionary peak by more than 125,000 jobs,” he said.

Nevada lost about 186,000 jobs during the recession, Anderson said. Nevada’s decline in jobs was about 14.3 percent while the rest of the nation was about 6.3 percent, he said.

Nevada has added more than 212,000 jobs to its economy since late 2010. In the years since the economy started to recover, employment in Nevada grew 19 percent compared to 12 percent nationwide.

“We now have the fourth-fastest growing private sector in the nation,” Anderson said, also noting that small-business jobs recently topped 600,000 for the first time.

Record numbers of visitors in addition to population growth are helping to drive retail spending, another industry boost, Anderson said.

“All evidence points to an economy that is operating pretty much on all cylinders,” he said. “We’re seeing very broad-based, diverse — but perhaps most importantly — sustainable kind of growth that, with what we see in the pipeline, will allow us to continue to grow.”

Nevada Assembly Republican Leader Paul Anderson said in a statement that the new data confirms that Republican reforms are working.

“Nevada today is stronger and better prepared to meet the future — the market is stable, and our economy is working up and down the spectrum. Now is not the time to cast doubt on our future. Our policies need to continue to solidify and our economic diversity needs to continue to grow, as it has so successfully done in recent years. Placing any additional burdens or obstacles on our economy will stunt our growth.”

State Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said in a joint statement that the higher projections “are an encouraging sign that Nevada’s economy and tax base continue to grow stronger."

“While these newly projected revenues will not be enough to fully meet our needs in public education, mental health, job training, and other vital services, we are committed to putting our tax dollars to work for the hard-working Nevadans who still feel left behind.”

Lawmakers need to reconcile the work they’ve done so far on the budget with the finalized projects. They face three more budget-related deadlines before the session adjourns on June 5.

Budget timeline

• Friday, May 5: Start resolving budget differences.

• Thursday, May 25: Finish resolving budget differences.

• Wednesday, May 31: Budget bills Introduced

• Monday June 5:120th and last day of the session.

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