A Primer on the 2018 Elections in 9 Charts
As Nevadans head to the polls, we know the economy and health care are critical issues for voters on both sides of the aisle. Taking these two issues into account, we analyzed state and national data paired with survey data of small business owners to get a deeper understanding of how small business owners are approaching the upcoming election.
Current Trends in Nevada’s Economy
Nevada’s economy has climbed out of the hole it entered in the Great Recession and has since continued on a strong upward trajectory. The state GDP is now 18.3 percent bigger than in 2007. The state has also grown its real GDP per capita by 1.5 percent over the last year, 0.2 percentage points more than the country as a whole and now stands at $44,812. It’s now outpaced the US overall on growth in real GDP per capita in 2 out of the past 3 years, after previously trailing it for 9 consecutive years.
Similarly, unemployment in Nevada stands at an 11-year low of 4.5 percent. And over the past twelve months, the state has added 43,500 jobs, 5,600 more than the previous year. This reflects the national trend of steadily declining unemployment rates. The country is now at record low unemployment, at just 3.7 percent.
This strength in the labor market has also led to strong improvements in employee earnings in Nevada. The opposite was true for much of 2016 and 2017, when wage growth in Nevada was consistently below that of the US overall. Since then, though, wages in the state have grown considerably. Today, private sector wages in the state stand at an average of $23.50, which is up 3.98 percent from this time last year, when they were $22.60. Despite this recent growth, though, the state’s average wage is about $3.75 / hour less than the national average.
This recent overall growth has many individuals, especially those in the small business community, feeling positive about the state’s economy. We discovered this by asking small business operators how they’re feeling about the state’s economy and the top policy issues they’re focused on this November. Through this survey of small business owners in Nevada that we ran over the past four months (n = 69), we heard bullish views on the state’s economy. Sixty-one percent of respondents from Nevada told us that they expect business conditions in their community to be “a little” or “much better” in the coming three months, more than 13 percentage points higher than the national average. On the other hand, small business owners in Nevada are also less likely than their counterparts elsewhere to say that the economy there has improved in the past year.
Not all measures of the state’s economy are painting as rosy of a picture, though. Looking at the level of new business starts in the state shows some remaining softness in Nevada’s economy. Although there were 993 more firms started than firms that died in 2016 (the latest available year of data), that’s still only about half of the amount of net business creation that the state had in 2005, when the state’s economy was 13 percent smaller in real terms. To be fair, though, declining entrepreneurship is not just an issue that’s affecting Nevada: business starts have slowed down nationwide.
A final factor to consider about how small business owners in Nevada are feeling about the state’s economy is that many of them feel like they’re not the state government’s priority. Seventy-six percent say their government cares more about attracting and supporting new corporations than supporting local small businesses.
The Importance of Health Care to the Small Business Voter
The economy is unlikely to be the only or leading factor influencing how individuals vote. Nearly as many small business voters in Nevada cite health care as an issue that’s at the top of their priorities this year.
In Nevada, 78 percent of small business owners report disapproving of President Trump’s handling of health care. That’s a bigger difference than on economic policy, where 61 percent disapprove and 39 percent approve. Unsurprisingly, Republican voters largely approve of President Trump’s handling of both health care and the economy, while Democratic voters disapprove.
When it comes to health care, most Nevadans are supportive of the Affordable Care Act, specifically, and its key provisions:
- 78 percent support the expansion of Medicaid in Nevada
- 61 percent support the rules that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions
- 82 percent support making subsidies for health insurance available to low-income Americans
- 89 percent support allowing adults under 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan
This data provides an important perspective on small business voters’ priorities for the upcoming election, as they have a personal and real-time pulse on what’s happening with Nevada’s economy and the core issues affecting working families.
These data were collected from government economic sources and via the Thumbtack Economic Sentiment Survey, which captures the attitudes and perspectives of thousands of business owners from across the country every month to gauge how they are feeling about the economy and their businesses. Now in its sixth year, this survey provides a unique vantage point on the economy, as respondents are largely mobile service professionals with five or fewer employees who operate across the United States. Because they are hard to reach, these professionals are frequently overlooked in other surveys of small businesses. Note: percentages for individual graphics may not round to 100 due to rounding.