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The Two Sides Of Nevada's Economy: More Jobs But More People In Need

 Unemployment is way down in Nevada. The latest numbers from December show the jobless rate dropped to a seasonally adjusted 6.8 percent, which is a level unseen since June 2008.

In his State of the State address, Governor Brian Sandoval highlighted the state’s improved economy. Why, then, does his two-year budget predict more Nevadans than ever before will need state help for medical bills and food?

Economist John Restrepo told KNPR's State of Nevada that a decent number of high-paying jobs have been created over the past year but not enough to really help the overall economy. 

“We’re seeing a mixed recovery at this point,” Resptrepo said.

He said the economy is moving forward but it is a slow plod.  

According to the governor’s budget, the number of food stamp recipients in the next two fiscal years will grow 10 percent to more than 448,000 Nevadans.

State Senator Pat Spearman said there are things lawmakers can do to improve the lives of the working poor in the state, starting with increasing the minimum wage.

"Who can live on $1,600 a month?" Spearman asked, "It is a moral imperative to consider raising the minimum wage." In Nevada, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, if an employer provides insurance. It is $8.25 without insurance. State Senator Tick Segerblom is pushing a constitutional amendment to bring it to $15 an hour.  

 

She also said lawmakers can look at things like paid sick leave and child care subsidies or tax credits, allowing people who are poor to keep more of the money they make. 

“Are we going to give everyone a chance at the American Dream?” Spearman asked.

Guy Hobbs, the principal and founder of Hobbs, Ong and Associates said the state needs to have a discussion about the best way to help people out of poverty.  

“Does it make the most sense to do it through subsistence programs, which we all know have been troubled in the past as far as targeting those really  in need, or is it better to do it on the front end by increasing wages?” Hobbs said.

He said for businesses both suggestions have the same impact on their bottom line.

GUEST:

John Restrepo, principal with RCG Economics 

Pat Spearman, state senator 

Guy Hobbs, principal and founder, Hobbs, Ong and Associates
Copyright 2015 KNPR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.knpr.org/.

John Restrepo, principal with RCG Economics

Pat Spearman, state senator

Guy Hobbs, principal and founder, Hobbs, Ong and Associates

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