Thursday, April 09, 2009
No. We're not thinking of moving there. But, we've been through there a few times in the last couple years. There's nothing within a hundred or more miles of Elko so, if you're traveling on that part of Route 80 in northern Nevada, you're likely to stop there just to get something to eat or to fill up the tank.
There's a nice article in the Wall Street Journal today about how a resurgence in the mining industry, a little "gold fever", and a growing economy are attracting other Nevadans who are down on their luck - the area has the odd distinction of having job growth along with a rising unemployment rate due to the influx of job seekers.
While Las Vegas, Reno and other onetime hot spots reel from the real-estate crash and wider recession, this area's gold-mining operations are adding jobs and spreading wealth in surrounding Elko County. The area boasts 26,700 jobs, up from 25,500 a year ago, while Nevada has lost many jobs. Construction is up here, as are taxable sales.There probably aren't that many counties in the nation that can boast a growing construction industry these days. One can only imagine what the lines look like when help wanted ads are posted as all you need is about $50 in gas to get there from Vegas.
There's a paradox, though: The unemployment rate in Elko County -- which has a population of 50,000 -- has risen to 6.4%, from 4.2% last year due to the "lifeboat effect." The town has become the last hope for jobless people streaming in from elsewhere in Nevada and beyond.
Until we moved from Southern California to Northern California, there was no reason for us to ever go through there, though, always a lover of maps, the dot labeled Elko - in the middle of nowhere, as it is - has always made me curious.
Others didn't even know it existed until job openings started popping up.
Rebecca Haney, who in 2006 was laid off from her job in Dallas, drove in a month ago after two relatives in Elko told her about all the jobs. "I didn't even know where it was," she said. "I had to Google it." At the Elko office of JobConnect, a state employment agency, officials report that 1,500 people a month are seeking help finding work, up 50% from a year ago.This follows a raft of stories in recent days about the gold prospecting boom in California.
Elko's attraction is simple: Gold mines in this mountainous area of northeastern Nevada are thriving and in some cases adding workers amid stratospheric prices for the commodity. Barrick Gold Corp. has added 250 people to its Nevada operations over the past year, and expects to add an additional 300 jobs to its work force of 3,500 over the next several months, said Greg Lang, president of the Toronto company's North American region.
It seems that reporters are always looking for what part of the economy is booming during recessions - the thriving Mary Kay Cosmetics business was on ABC's Nightline the other night as, apparently, even during recessions, women don't cut back on lipstick and mascara.