Job growth by sector measures the economic stability and diversity of the local economy, which is an important indicator for business and government planning. Job growth creates a better understanding of which sectors are the key generators of jobs and which sectors are continuing to grow in the area. Income levels, job growth and home prices can show how the community is evolving.
The top four employment industries in the region in 2010 were accommodation & food service, entertainment & recreation, retail, and construction. These industries are consistent with a resort community and tend to employ many low or minimum wage employees.
Homeownership contributes to tax benefits, home equity, and a commitment to the community. The region benefits from local homeowners and renters with local purchases, from higher enrollment in schools, committed local employees and additional tax revenue. In addition, air quality is improved and traffic is reduced when employees live/work close to work/home. As home prices rise, low to moderate income working families often move further from work to afford housing, housing and transportation costs are allocated from other life necessities (i.e., food, health, and childcare), and time is spent commuting instead of at home.
The federal government considers housing affordable if the housing costs, including utilities, are no more than 30-35% of monthly income. During the first three quarters of 2013, the median home price in the Tahoe/Truckee area was just over $530,000, over the 2000 median home price of $400,000 but significantly below the 2006 median of nearly $700,000. A mortgage payment on a $530,000 home would be around $3,000 monthly. Although prices have decreased in recent years, prices are higher than California and the U.S. overall, and many families in the Tahoe/Truckee region cannot afford to own a home in this price range.
Currently, the Town of Truckee counts a total of 350 income-restricted housing units. DOMUS manages 92 low income rental units in Kings Beach. Families must meet several criteria to qualify for available rental units, including income levels from 30% to 50% of median household income. A family of four in Nevada County qualifies at the 30% income level if the combined full time hourly wage of all members is not more than $8.89 an hour ($18,490 annually). A family of four qualifies at the 50% if the income is not more than $14.82 an hour ($30,816 annually)
Affordable housing is a challenge in the Tahoe/Truckee region. With the high cost of new homes, land, and construction, prices are not expected to drop to affordable levels. Although new units are expected on the market in the coming years, additional housing is needed for moderate income and impoverished households.
For people in the workforce, transportation to work is a key factor in one’s daily schedule and time allocation. The commuting needs of the workforce population help to determine the need and importance of a public transportation system. The seasonal tourism industry in the Tahoe/Truckee area increases the need for public transportation in order to provide for low paid seasonal employees and visitors. In addition, families without transportation are in need of a transit system that can be used for visits to health services, community services, educational opportunities and recreational activities.
Nurturing, stimulating childcare helps young children get along with others, reach developmental milestones, and start school ready to succeed. The availability of quality childcare has a tremendous impact on each child, such as whether the child behaves or “acts out” or is prepared for school. Today, many families consist of parents who must work, leaving the care of their children in the hands of others. Those who cannot get their child (or children) into a licensed childcare facility run the risk of having unqualified childcare supervision or no supervision at all.
SNCS and PCOE provide free childcare referrals to anyone in the community regardless of income. Just as low-income families are impacted by the high price of childcare, they also suffer disproportionately from childcare shortages. Access to childcare is hardest for low-income working families who are not on welfare. In 2012, 58% of preschool age children qualified for state preschool (under 70% of state median income). In Nevada County, 61% of preschool age children qualified.
In North Lake Tahoe, the number of childcare slots has dropped from 305 in 2007 to 250 in 2013.