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Nevada’s fastest-growing jobs require no degrees

CARSON CITY – Think you need a college degree to find a job in Nevada?

Think again.

The fastest-growing occupations in the Silver State are retail salespeople, waitresses and waitresses, cashiers and gaming dealers, a study released at a legislative Committee on Education meeting Thursday shows.

And except for nurses, none of the 12 fastest-growing occupations in Nevada requires a college degree.

But state chief economist William Anderson told legislators that more and more jobs in Nevada will require at least some college, mentioning jobs in the health professions, computer science and logistics as the top occupations of the future. He released a report he compiled for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation at the hearing, where lawmakers discussed the state job growth and workforce readiness programs.

Legislators, eager to go lunch, made no comment on his report.

Anderson said that in numerical terms, Nevada still is dominated by service industry employment. According to the study, businesses need 2,278 salespeople, 2,124 waitresses or waiters and 1,792 cashiers a year.

These typically are not high-paying jobs or those most people remain in as careers. But they will be a lot more plentiful than jobs requiring college degrees.

Topping the positions needing college degrees are general and operations managers. Companies will need 536 of them a year. Nevada also will need 354 additional elementary school teachers a year, 200 accountants and auditors and 172 secondary school teachers.

As expected, also in demand will be lawyers, with 172 more needed per year, with 111 additional pharmacists.

But the report shows, at least for now, that it will be business as usual in Nevada, with jobs where people serve the public ranking at the top of the list.

Anderson noted that in the past year companies have added 12,000 to 15,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, far more than in all other categories. He noted that gaming revenue has climbed 12 percent this year, compared with last year, and the number of visitors to Las Vegas continues to grow.

Geoff Lawrence, deputy directory of policy for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank based in Las Vegas, said Thursday that there is a myth perpetuated by the education establishment that most jobs of the future need college degrees. In his Solutions 2013 plan, he cited U.S. Department of Labor reports showing 21.75 percent of jobs now require college degrees, and the figure in 2018 will be 22.97 percent. He calls for expansion of vocational education programs in Nevada.

Nationally, as well as in Nevada, the biggest demand for jobs will be for home health aides and retail sales workers, he said.

"We tend to overinvest in higher education," he added.

While some college majors can lead to lucrative careers, according to Lawrence, many don’t, and students must struggle for years to pay off student loans.

Anderson said that job growth in Nevada will range about 2 percent a year for several more years and that it will be a long time before the state finds replacements for the 170,000 jobs lost during the recession. Economists say the recession nationally ended in June 2009, but Nevada still has a 12 percent unemployment rate, top in the nation.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@rviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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