Construction boom: Great time to be part of the Las Vegas valley labor force

Construction continues Monday, October 16, 2017, at Resorts World Las Vegas on the 3000 block of Las Vegas Blvd. South. (Scott Kost/KSNV)

Count with us:

  • An NFL-ready stadium.
  • The expanded Convention Center.
  • Resorts World.
  • The Fontainebleau.
  • Steve Wynn’s new resort.
  • The 51s new stadium.
  • All Net Arena.

Between the Stadium and the convention center alone, that’s 33,000 construction jobs. Our not-so-inclusive list would need thousands more for the other projects either underway, or about to begin. That’s not counting all the apartment building, home building and road work.

“There’s a lot of projects going on at the same time,” County Commissioner Steve Sisolak tells me. “Good time to be in the labor force in Southern Nevada.”

During the bust, two-thirds of Nevada’s 150,000 construction jobs evaporated. We’re now back to about 90,000, and construction is Nevada’s fastest-growing sector of the economy.

The question is demand outstripping supply?

“People follow jobs,” says the state’s Chief Economist, Bill Anderson. “People will go to jobs, so it might not be easy to hire people, but over time as word gets out that Nevada once again is at the top of the job growth ranking that we’ll see the labor supply be there.”

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Unions around town are ramping up training. At Laborers Union Local 872, its training facility on Bonanza is busy, as members who moved away during the recession move back, and union retirees come out of retirement to pick up another paycheck.

“It’s good for us because when the training goes up, everything goes up. We have a lot of work here and it will be our jobs to train the laborers so they can get out and do the work,” says Local 872 instructor Leon Harris.

Out back, on a forklift, I met Salvador Ayala. He’s getting recertified to work one of these and expects to be on a jobsite soon. He remembers the bust all too well.

“I even got out of the union. I just got reinstated back a couple weeks ago and just getting my [certifications] back ‘cause they expired,” he explained, telling me his return to work, he estimates, “it’s only a matter of time, like weeks, days.”

“I don’t believe there’s going to be a labor shortage,” says Tommy White, the head of local 872, who is also a member of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, the public body that oversees the stadium.

Part of its $2 billion cost is being paid with $750 million in higher room taxes, paved largely by talk of the economic benefit – an annual boost, supporters said, of $620 million in annual economic impact. Jobs were a big part of the discussion, and 2020 is looming to be quite the year: It’s the scheduled completion date of the stadium, the convention center expansion and Resorts World.

On the other end of that goal-line, many projects will be going on at once, not only those three, but Steve Wynn’s Paradise park project on the site of his golf course, the 51s stadium and, according to its chairman and president, All Net Arena.

“All these projects are going to be going on pretty much within six months of each other,” White says. “We’re prepared to put people to work.”

Which can’t come soon enough for Dee Sypert, whom I met at Local 872’s training facility. “I was off for 18 months during the downturn, so I’m just happy to have all this work and just really, really thankful.”

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