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Census: Incomes Up, But Financial Inequality Still Plagues Nevada

CARSON CITY, NV (KXNT) – The United States Census Bureau said the economic picture in Nevada is improving, but the cost of living is still a significant problem.

According the the Census Bureau, almost 14 percent of Nevadans live below the federal poverty level, but that’s an improvement over last year and is a little better than the national average, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The new statistics show that the median household income is rising, and stands at about $55,000. That a bit under the national average, but the median price of a home is almost $35,000 higher than the national figure.

“Housing prices here (Nevada) have grown the fastest of any of the 400 metropolitan areas in the nation,” said Elliott Parker, Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada Reno. “That’s relative to the bottom we hit several years ago. I think it was around 2012 when housing prices finally stopped declining,” Parker said.

Anti-poverty advocates have been trying for a number of years to get a bump in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This year, the state Legislature passed a $12 an hour minimum wage, and $11 dollars an hour if you have health insurance. Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed that measure. The next Legislative session isn’t until 2019 after next year’s election.

“Nevada has one of the more unequal distributions of income in the nation,” Parker said. “Some numbers I’ve seen suggest that the top one percent has 44 times the income of the average of the bottom 99 percent, and there’s only a couple of states in the country that have a higher ratio than that,” said Parker.

The supplemental poverty rate, which takes cost of living into account, shows Nevada is a more expensive place to live compared with the national average.

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