Reno's economy shows growth, but progress is slow according to experts at chamber's Directions forum
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The message at today's Directions Economic Forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Reno-Sparks and Northern Nevada was one of cautionary hope.
Conference speakers noted recent economic progress across the region, including the state's unemployment rate, which has dropped four straight months to 8.8 percent last month. They also highlighted Reno-Sparks as one of the fastest appreciating housing markets in the country. But despite those gains, there's still a long way to go.
"The problem is, the wake of the recession is large and people are still suffering from that and I don't think we want to have any illusions about that," says Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with the research firm Applied Analysis. "Just because housing prices are up doesn't mean that equity has been recovered. Just because jobs are being created doesn't mean that everyone has a job. So, while things are better, I wouldn't suggest that they're good."
Aguero, who spoke to a crowd of several hundred people in Reno for the forum, says employment and population growth have been sluggish, but as momentum slowly builds so does enthusiasm among small businesses and consumers.
"Consumer confidence dropped dramatically, right, during the fourth quarter of last year. This is when the United States Congress was battling and essentially government was shutting itself down," he explains. "Today, you've seen that turn dramatically; consumer confidence is rising both in terms of the current situation as well as the expected situation."
Another area of growth in Northern Nevada has been tourism. The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority reports that last year brought in the most tourism dollars since 2008 and the average daily hotel room rate was up nearly ten percent from 2012.