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Economic Wellbeing
Economic Wellbeing Graphic



Our region has experienced decades of growth. Job creation is strong and unemployment is low. In this situation it may be easy to feel that even the poorest families have the opportunity to get ahead. That may true for many but certainly is not reality for a large portion of our community.

The poverty rate for families in Washoe County may be lower than the national average but challenges with health insurance, housing costs, and childcare expenses impact many of our families and make opportunities for advancement hard to take advantage of or find.


To learn more about each indicator, simply click on the icon, chart, map, or graph to be directed to the Community Data Portal, where you will see maps, charts, graphs, year-over-year comparisons, and more.***

***Please note that graphs and other visual aids may only be visible on a desktop or laptop computer. If you are viewing this page on a mobile device, please switch to a desktop or laptop computer for the best viewing experience and the most access to information. 

Overall Community Economic Wellbeing Grade

OK/Satisfactory Grade Scale
OK/Satisfactory Face Grade

A thriving economy provides valuable jobs, income for necessities, and sufficient revenue for public services, which creates a healthy community for both people and businesses. Substantial economic resources allow individuals and families to be more self-reliant. In turn, residents possess the skills to create successful businesses. 

Learn more below about the state of economic wellbeing in our community. 



Employment growth with salaries above the regional average enhances the attractiveness of the region, making it more affordable for residents to be self-sufficient while contributing to a healthy economy, and easier for employers to recruit needed workforce.

This indicator looks at the average salary of new job growth is an indicator of the region’s ability to attract new companies in target sectors.

Economic Development Assisted New Jobs Average Salary

Average salary of assisted new jobs: $63,668, with a rising trend in Washoe county.
Economic Devlopment Assisted New Jobs Average Salary from 2012 at $39,900 to 2021 at $63,668.


The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the local economy. Unemployment occurs when local businesses are not able to supply enough appropriate jobs for local employees and/or when the labor force is not able to supply appropriate skills to employers. A high rate of unemployment has personal and societal effects. During periods of unemployment, individuals are likely to feel severe economic strain and mental stress. Unemployment is also related to access to health care, as many individuals receive health insurance through their employer. A high unemployment rate places strain on financial support systems, as unemployed persons qualify for unemployment benefits and food stamp programs.

This indicator describes civilians, 16 years of age and over, who are unemployed as a percent of the Washoe County civilian labor force.


Unemployed Workers in the Civilian Labor Force

Unemployment rate
Unemployed workers in Washoe county are slightly above average compared to other Nevada counties.
Washoe County Unemployed Workers Graph: March-August 2020 had the highest rate of unemployment.


The Cost of Living Index compares living costs (such as housing, transportation, utilities, groceries, and healthcare) for the typical middle-class family. Comparing our costs with cities around the country is often a first step for companies considering relocating to our region.

Keeping living costs close to the national average indicates the region’s affordability for families and helps economic development organizations bring quality jobs to the region as companies compare our costs with other urban areas around the country.

The Cost of Living (COL) Index compares relative consumer living costs (such as housing, transportation, utilities, groceries, and healthcare) for the typical middle-class family. The average for all participating places equals 100. The COL Index does not measure inflation price changes over time.

Cost of Living

Cost of Living Index Composite

Cost of Living Index: 104.1
Cost of Living Trending Up
Cost of Living Index from 1989-2021: 102.1 in 1989 to 104.1 in 2021
Median Sales Price

Median Sales Price of Exsisting Homes

Median Sales Price of Metro Area: Reno-Sparks is $595,200
Graph indicating rise of Median Sales Price of Existing Homes from $100,000 in 1980 to present.


Infrastructure to move goods and passengers plays as important a role as regional roads and rail transport. Passenger numbers and cargo poundage continue to annually increase. Aviation provides the only worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential for local, regional, national and global business and tourism. It plays a vital role in facilitating economic growth, particularly in developing communities.

This indicator looks at the passenger and cargo traffic at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.


Passengers and Cargo at Reno Tahoe International Airport

Key Takeaways

Overall, much of the data and research typically published to help determine this report were unavailable or not updated in 2020. So much of the world's energy went into tracking, surviving, and recovering from COVID-19 that significant reports and research projects were set aside. Despite the challenges, this preparation for this report uncovered several key takeaways.

  • New jobs in our region continue to see improved wage growth. In 2020 the average new salary rate for Washoe County was $63,668, slightly down from the 2019 high of $72,788 but far above the 2012 rate of $39,000.

  • Our region was hit by the economic difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as most other communities around the globe. In Washoe County, unemployment spiked to around 20% in the depths of the pandemic but quickly rebounded back to and dropped below typical levels of 3.5%-4%.

  • The cost of living in our region continues to be a challenge for many. Despite wage growth, other expenses such as transportation, food, and housing have also increased. Northern Nevada continues to see a higher cost of living than other locations in our state.

  • Home prices also continue to climb more steeply than our wage growth. In 2021 the median home price was a record-setting $595,200. This price marks a significant increase over the median cost of a home in 1986 of $100,000.

  • Air traffic correlates strongly to the economic health of our community. Measuring the number of people and the amount of goods being transported via air gives us a good understanding of commerce. Despite a significant dip in air travel for passengers in 2020, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport sees strong growth in both passenger travel and goods.

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    Reno Sparks Tahoe Economic Development Authority Logo

    Good Business = Great Community​

    The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) is a private/public partnership established in 1983. EDAWN is committed to adding quality jobs to the region by recruiting new companies, supporting the success of existing companies, and assisting newly forming companies to diversify the economy and positively impact the quality of life in Greater Reno-Sparks.

    EDAWN’s efforts to strengthen and improve the region’s economic vitality are focused on making a positive impact in these areas:

  • Attract companies from outside the region

  • Start-ups and entrepreneurial growth in new companies

  • Retain and expand existing companies and jobs

  • Workforce development

  • Advocate for improvements that enhance our community

  • You can count on the EDAWN team to bring our region the most forward-thinking, progressive, and grounded business initiatives such as impressive business recruitment, community economic reports, world-class economic innovation, and engaging community events.

    EDAWN drives our region towards a bright future!

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