NV median household income dropped, income inequality increased in 2018

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Creative Commons Zero – CC0

Between 2017 and 2018 household income increased in 33 states.

Nevada was not one of them.

Median household income in Nevada dropped, in inflation-adjusted dollars, from $59,340 in 2017 to $58,646 in 2018, a 1.2 percent decline, according to data from the American Community Survey released by the Census Bureau Thursday.

Nationally, median household income increased eight-tenths of a percent, from $61,423 to $61,937.

Prior data has shown Nevada’s recovery from the economic crash of more than a decade ago has been characterized by low-wage jobs, and median income in the state has not returned to pre-crash levels even as gross state product has grown.

An Economic Policy Institute analysis of the Census Bureau data released Thursday underscored the point.

Incorporating the latest numbers with prior Census Bureau reports, EPI noted that Nevada’s inflation-adjusted household median income was 12.3 percent lower in 2018 than it was in 2007.

No other state came close. The state with the second largest income decline over the period was New Mexico, where household median income declined 6.3 percent.

Economists generally cite the Great Recession’s impact on the construction industry as the biggest reason Nevada household incomes have failed to return to pre-crash levels. Specifically, while employment in the relatively high-paying construction sector has been growing, construction workers still do not account for nearly as large an overall portion of the workforce as before 2007.

As was the case in most states and the nation as a whole, income inequality rose in Nevada according to the Census data.

The Gini index, a scale from 0 to 1 where 0 would mean everyone had the same income and 1 would mean only 1 person made all the income, rose in Nevada from .461 to .469, but Nevada was still among the 37 states with Gini indexes lower than the nation’s. The national Gini index rose from .482 to .485.

The highest Gini indexes were in Puerto Rico (.542) and the District of Columbia (.427). Utah’s Gini index was the lowest (.427).

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

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