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March 6, 2015

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How much does a Las Vegas lawyer, bartender or dealer make? A look at wages in the valley


Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

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There are 126,000 fewer jobs in the Las Vegas Valley today than there were five years ago. But the salaries of many workers increased.

The average paycheck for CEOs, elementary school teachers, casino dealers and waiters, for example, all saw double-digit growth from 2007 to 2011, according to mean salaries compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“One of the things this illustrates is how sticky wages are,” said Jeff Waddoups, a UNLV professor who studies labor economics and industrial relations. “Usually when you think about how markets work, demand for labor falls by quite a bit and you'd expect wages to go down with it. But in real life, wages stay the same or keep going up, but not as many people are hired.”

Larger businesses and their employees fared better during the economic downturn because those companies better absorbed blows and tend to pay higher wages. Government employees also saw wage increases.

But service providers, such as lawyers, hairstylists and dentists, saw their salaries drop.

Why? The number of providers in those industries grew, while the number of available jobs shrunk because customers cut back on expenses, Waddoups said. People in service professions also often are independent contractors, whose salaries aren’t set by large corporations or protected by unions, he said.

Want to know how much your accountant or favorite bartender earned? Here’s a look what Las Vegans with different occupations made before the boom and after:

Job Number of workers in 2007 2007 mean annual salary 2007 adjusted annual salary Number of workers in 2011 2011 mean annual salary Percent change
Chief executive 860 $143,960 $156,182 480 $202,420 30%
Family physician 730 $143,160 $155,314 770 $199,140 28%
Elementary school teacher 11,480 $37,790 $40,998.37 7,280 $52,240 27%
Producer/director 440 $57,200 $62,056 460 $74,860 21%
Architect 1,070 $69,190 $75,064 290 $90,300 20%
Claims adjuster 1,020 $53,470 $58,010 990 $66,580 15%
Casino dealer 20,680 $14,210 $15,416 18,620 $17,300 12%
Chef 2,270 $44,780 $48,582 2,290 $54,340 12%
Waiter 32,560 $19,100 $20,722 31,290 $23,070 11%
Gaming supervisor 7,480 $45,880 $49,775 6,210 $54,680 10%
Financial manager 3,330 $88,670 $96,198 2,900 $105,480 10%
Accountant 5,010 $55,180 $59,865 4,590 $63,790 7%
Registered nurse 10,460 $67,740 $73,491 11,730 $77,790 6%
Chemist 100 $76,240 $82,713 110 87,530 6%
Cage clerk 3,740 $24,640 $26,732 $2,250 $28,020 5%
Maid 19,230 $25,130 $27,264 18,960 $28,550 5%
Pharmacist 1,720 $97,310 $105,572 1,610 $108,360 3%
Hotel desk clerk 3,260 $27,780 $30,139 3,280 $30,320 1%
Convention planners 330 $45,060 $48,886 430 $49,120 0%
Bartender 9,780 $24,030 $26,070 10,630 $26,160 0%
Security guard 16,510 $25,330 $27,481 16,110 $27,560 0%
Computer technician 2,260 $42,730 $46,358 3,030 $46,290 0%
Loan officer 3,020 $55,930 $60,678 1,680 $60,250 -1%
Gaming manager 400 $89,190 $96,762 430 $93,620 -3%
Civil Engineer 1,960 $83,660 $90,763 1,710 $87,140 -4%
Lawyer 3,200 $115,520 $125,328 3,540 $118,390 -6%
Sales manager 2,180 $95,150 $103,228 2,410 $96,250 -7%
Psychologist 280 $64,630 $70,117 310 $63,170 -10%
Dentist 580 $161,140 $174,821 950 $145,470 -17%
Public relations specialist 630 $66,420 $72,059 830 $58,720 -19%
Editor 240 $63,060 $68,414 240 $52,850 -23%
Hairstylist 1,440 $26,230 $28,457 2,110 $21,420 -25%

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  1. I question the accuracy of this list. If the average waiter in Las Vegas is making $23k and casino dealer is getting $17k, the respondents of the survey must have thought you were from the IRS.

  2. Obviously the dealer and waiter averages do not include tips...

  3. As a proud and grateful casino dealer, my tips are all taxed and part of a two-week check. I believe Vegas is coming back, tourism is up. It helps to have a positive attitude people!!

  4. Holy smokes! What was Ron Sylvester smokin' when he came up with the numbers for elementary school teachers? (No, I am not really suggesting that Sylvester smokes illegal substances!) Not a dime has been added to the teachers' salary schedule in several years, and only 2% in the two years before. IF the mean average salary for teachers went up by even close to what Sylvester suggests, it's because the district has hired fewer teachers as Clark County's population has decreased while systematically increasing the number of students in each class. The average is skewed further as younger teachers burn out quickly and leave the profession (roughly 30% leave within 3 years; 50% within five), while older, more experienced teachers who've beat the odds, have gone on to earn advanced degrees that are justifiably rewarded with a higher placement on the salary schedule, not unlike workers in some private sector, professional jobs who are rewarded for continuing their education.

    Is this what the Sun considers honest, investigative reporting now? I hope not! We need at least one honest newspaper in Southern Nevada!

  5. 126 K Fewer Jobs. I would say most are Construction Jobs - that will never return to the Levels Previously seen until we have a filibuster proof democratic Senate and control of the House.

    If This Country were to do an Infrastructure Build at the Current Lower Construction Wages,with locally a Widened I-15 to LA, an I-11 from Phoenix to Seattle (with an Interstate and Train Tunnel to San Francisco under the Sequoia Forest Mountains and a High speed Train from Phoenix through Las Vegas and on to LA a lot of Construction workers could get back to work very quickly. The Same can be said if Republicans approved a Stimulus to hire Back Teachers - Police and Firefighters. But Republicans would Rather Provide Additional Tax Cuts for the Likes of Sheldon Adelson than getting the Middle class back on their feet.
    The Salaries are Pretty Much Ficticious - They Look at an Avererage - so if a few are extremely over or underpaid - it really skews the numbers. For an accurate number the MID POINT is always best. You line up all nubers and you pick the number in the Dead Center, this method does not allow for numbers to be manipulated very easily.