Amazon, a major employer at both ends of Nevada, announced it was increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour starting this month.
That move puts pressure on an already tight job market in the state, according to economic and staffing experts — and it’s lower-skilled workers who are seeing the benefit.
Johnny Skowronek is the vice president of Square One Solutions, an employment agency based in Reno.
He told KNPR’s State of Nevada that when it comes to warehouse work he has immediate options for people looking for a job – even people with no skills can find work.
“We’re witnessing a severe labor shortage in this area,” he said.
He said over the past two years the number of job openings has skyrocketed.
Professor Steve Miller, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, credits the overall strong economy and growth in the warehouse and light industrial sectors for the fatter paychecks.
“There’s a new characteristic in the job market, which is that the stress is coming at the lower end of the scale,” Miller said. “Lower-skilled workers are growing in demand and not growing so rapidly in supply, so that’s pushing up the wages.”
He added that gains for those at the bottom of the ladder can eventually put upward pressure on wages for the broader labor force.
While everyone would like to see a pay increase, Skowronek said that is only part of the picture.
“I think paying more allows employers to cast a bigger net, but then it’s up to them to really provide the things that keep a good employee around,” he said.
Skowronek said employers now must great benefits, a strong company culture, management accountability, training and the chance to be promoted.
He also said that employers are also offering more non-traditional incentives like employee parties and perks.
Director of business development for Intelligent LifeCycle Solutions Erich Schmitt said his company has had to raise wages three times since January 2017 and it's likely they’ll raise them again next year.
But besides the wage increase, they offer flexible hours and full benefits after 90 days of employment.
Schmitt doesn’t expect the job market to dip off anytime soon.
“I do not see it cooling off anytime soon,” he said, “Just about everybody that wants to work is working.”
Miller agrees. He believes the economy will stay on track for the next several years.
“All the data I see suggests the outlook is good at least through the end of 2019 or 2020,” he said, however, circumstances could change and a recession could start earlier than experts predict.
Johnny Skowronek, vice president, Square One Solutions employment agency; Erich Schmitt, director of business development, Intelligent LifeCycle Solutions; Stephen Miller, director, UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research