Workforce development has been a keystone in the discussion of economic diversification of Las Vegas for decades. The leisure and hospitality industry is the lifeline for the Southern Nevada economy due to the reliance on tourism as the city’s main economic driver. This report analyzes five leisure and hospitality occupational clusters: food service & preparation, entertainment & recreation, gaming, lodging, and sales. Within these five clusters, entry-level wage, mid-level wage, and upper-level wage occupations are identified to show the change in compensation and employment as a worker moves through the ranks.

In September 2021, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) reclaimed its status as the nation’s most diverse university, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. However, despite having such a diverse student body, the institution’s faculty population continues to be predominantly white. This report explores the gap in racial diversity between students and faculty members at Nevada’s two research universities: UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). As one of the most racially diverse states in the United States, Nevada is an ideal case study for understanding this gap in racial diversity, and an ideal laboratory for proposing meaningful, equity-focused policy interventions.

Nevada experienced one of the worst economic downturns in the nation following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the vulnerability of Nevada workers. In his 2021 State of the State address, Governor Steve Sisolak highlighted aligning the state’s workforce development capacity with community colleges to best leverage federal funding and statewide infrastructure for jobs training and economic recovery. In this policy brief, I delve into Nevada’s Legislative History regarding higher education and analyze the governance and funding of community colleges in neighboring Mountain West states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), provide regional economic context, and offer policy recommendations.


Policy initiatives such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), a regional tuition saving agreement among colleges and universities operating in the western states, have the ability to increase mobility and promote human capital attainment. This brief will be focusing exclusively on how Nevada’s higher education system and related programs, specifically the WUE, can be improved to further attract and attain a higher-skilled workforce. This paper will cover a literature review of brain drain and its effects, investigate Nevada’s relationship with human capital and the WUE, as well as offer policy recommendations to improve attainment.


The United States has a literacy problem; in fact, it has an education problem in general. Piecemeal reforms that differ wildly from state to state, and even county to county, have had varying levels of success from none to showing real potential. Nevada is not exempt from this literacy problem. In 2015, only 47.57% of the students taking the state mandated third grade exams were deemed proficient on the English Language Arts portion of the exam. The purpose of this paper is to examine the efficacy of one such literacy program, “Nevada K.I.D.S Read”, with a goal of establishing early childhood literacy by third grade, among other academic goals; it first explores the background of the program, then the outcomes, and lastly what the data actually reveals about the program.

When immediately entering the labor market post-high school graduation, Transitional Age Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (TAY-ASD) face significant barriers to employment compared to both their disabled and non-disabled peers. With employment outcomes characterized by low wages, short work hours, and social isolation, TAY-ASD from low income households with lower levels of functioning face the greatest hardship in seeking employment after high school graduation. Current vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs show inefficiency in servicing individuals with the greatest need for assistance due to lack of program monitoring and little emphasis for post-secondary education (PSE) attainment. This study suggests that reform to VR programs through increased service monitoring and establishment of expectations set for attainment of PSE holds potential to greatly benefit employment outcomes for TAY-ASD, particularly for low income individuals.

While living in the age of information, an inherent drawback to such high exposure to content lends itself to the precarious rise of misinformation. Whether it is called “alternative facts,” “fake news,” or just incorrect information, because of its pervasiveness in nearly every political and policy discussion, the spread of misinformation is seen as one of the greatest challenges to overcome in the 21st century. As new technologies emerge, a major piece of both content creation and the perpetuation of misinformation are social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. As news events emerge, whether be a pandemic, a mass shooting, or an election campaign, it is difficult to divulge the facts from fiction when so many different “facts” appear. This study looks at 14,545,945 tweets generated in the wake of the 1 October mass shooting and its second anniversary to identify how much of the public response is fogged by information pollution, to identify what kind of misinformation is spread and how it spreads on Twitter and news coverage.

The way in which school districts are governed has long been a topic of interest and controversy. While there are broadly differing opinions about which governing structures to implement and how, the most important thing to note might be the widespread discontent. Just as student achievement is a result of many factors, both at home and in the classroom, activists and politicians have sought to change any number of educational policies—including school district governance—in an attempt to bolster student outcomes. This drive has sparked the debate surrounding school boards, the governing authority in charge of policy decisions at the local level. I conclude that while appointed school boards may encourage conditions beneficial for students and parents, school district deconsolidation holds the potential to improve outcomes for those students and parents.

This paper examines the structure of the Nevada legislature and how interest groups influence the policy-making process. In particular, this paper aims to answer the questions of how interest groups are able to make a difference in the legislative process and how those groups are able to gain access to the political environment in the state. By understanding how interest groups advocate for certain policies, the best methods to engage citizens in the political process can be understood. By utilizing SB179 as the case study for this analysis, the processes of the legislature can be examined. Through moving to a full-time legislature and increasing legislator pay interest groups will have more access to the Nevada legislature.


Abstract: "Far-right extremism is a growing problem in the United States. Attacks by radical right organizations are increasing and represent a significant portion of all domestic terror incidents. However, current approaches to deal with far-right extremism are failing and require a different approach to address this problem. A potential solution to stymie future attacks would be to shift the way that police departments are conducting their operations. A community-oriented policing (COP) strategy would allow law enforcement to target extremists in a way that fosters positive relationships with communities as well as gain critical intelligence and insight into these radical movements. This paper develops the foundations for future research by examining a foreign COP program that could serve as a model for a U.S.-based COP program. In addition, this paper investigates the costs and benefits of shifting to a COP strategy."

Abstract: "Women in the United States have made monumental strides in recent decades to increase their participation in both higher education and the workforce. As it currently stands, young women are beginning to acquire bachelor’s degrees and professional degrees at higher rates than men and are entering the labor force at record numbers. Aside from these vast societal shifts, a staggering problem remains as the gender gap in pay fails to effectively close. The persistence of the wage gap can be primarily attributed to one significant factor: having children. The motherhood wage penalty occurs when women experience a drop in earnings and workplace opportunities following the birth of their children. Although many factors contribute to this problem, the predominant cause lies in the disproportionate child-rearing responsibilities women inherit and the subsequent career sacrifices they make. Addressing this problem will require a reform of current policy and a move towards a parental leave system that encourages increased participation among fathers. This paper will examine the extent of the problem, identify its underlying cause, explore the deficiencies of current policy, and conclude with a policy recommendation."

Abstract: "Climate Change Greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized societies have changed the temperature of the earth’s surface, atmosphere, ocean and climate systems. Although scientists have been aware of the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as early as the 1970’s, world leaders have been slow to react and implement proactive policies. As federal administrations and national leaders abdicate their leadership in mitigating climate change, the responsibility to implement proactive policies now lies with local bodies, such as states, private companies and individuals.
Overview Nevada’s abundant renewable energy resources have made the state a target for the growing renewable energy industry. The development of that industry is constrained and shaped by the policy set in place by state governments. This paper will go over the ongoing battle to increase Nevada’s renewable energy portfolio standard by reviewing the policy’s history, development, implementation and feasibility."

Abstract: "The mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, left a place infamous for its neon lights in complete and total darkness. In a city that projects an image of the ideal adult playground, tragedy peels back the facade built by advertising agencies and tourism authorities. The world, perhaps for the first time, was able to see the people behind the image of a sinful strip. During the hours following the horrific events that occurred the night of October 1st, the Las Vegas community came together to grieve, heal, and find a path forward. Using the rallying cry ‘Vegas Strong’, residents across the valley made clear that the event would serve as a reminder of the strength of the city. This message of resilience was spread across the microblogging platform, Twitter.
This paper will examine the origin of the hashtag ‘#VegasStrong’ on Twitter as well as the rate at which it was shared in the days following the mass shooting. The role of key influencers in the dissemination of the hashtag is explored. Findings from the study suggest that the widespread use of the tag can be attributed in part to several key influencers who shared tweets with ‘#VegasStrong’ from October 2, 2017, until October 7, 2017. Among the top influencers using the hashtag, there is a notable absence of local government agencies and local officials. I argue that these agencies and individual actors can improve their risk and crisis communications strategy through the early adoption and promotion of a single, unifying hashtag."


Abstract: "In a January 2016 meeting, the Clark County Commission heard a proposal from the County Public Works Department about a $200 million plan to build two urban elevated expressways constructed above existing roadways, potentially linking McCarran International Airport with the Las Vegas Strip’s resort corridor. Commissioners lauded the project with a “high degree of confidence” for funding sources and praised the “magnificent way of moving traffic” and “out of the box thinking” of these urban elevated expressways. Yet the positive feedback that County Commissioners showered on this proposal flies in the face of decades of history on urban elevated expressways. Cities and states have spent over $20 billion and nearly five decades locked in contentious battles to tear down these expressways. Such teardowns have reduced the social inequity associated with new freeway construction, and have shifted the discussion in urban planning from mere mobility of cars from point A to point B to increased multimodal access for pedestrians, bikes, cars, and light-rail transit. In light of this emerging public policy discussion, this white paper has been prepared for Brookings Mountain West as a primer on the state of urban elevated expressways in North America. For this white paper, a survey was conducted of the top 50 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States and only found one example of an urban elevated expressway project in Tampa—a project far different from the Southern Nevada expressway on many fronts. In fact, cities have been at the forefront of urban elevated expressway removal, through what has been unofficially referred to as the “freeway revolt” movement. Engagement with urban planning experts in person and on social media revealed a similar consensus on the historic trend against urban elevated expressways. This paper attempts to supplement local discussion on this topic with research on other cities’ experiences with these roads."

Abstract: Speaking of malnutrition conjures images of starving African children as presented by the media and humanitarian organizations. We think about famine ridden lands, places where emaciated victims who have very little access to food. Malnutrition does not conjure images of obese youth and financially struggling families living amidst excessive consumption in America. Although an alarming paradox, malnutrition can and does exist in what some would call the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth, but yet it does exist.


Abstract: Consumer cyber protection as it relates to the threat of cyber insecurity is an increasingly critical issue with cyberattacks on major businesses such as Target and Sony. Over 100 million Americans to date have had their financial information compromised, and in the ten-year history of Verizon’s Payment Card Industry investigations no companies were compliant with Payment Card Industry standards at the time of the attack. In March 2015, the FCC fined AT&T $25 million for failing to adequately provide cybersecurity that resulted in almost 300,000 people having their personal and financial information compromised. It was the largest in FCC history of this type.

According to Fujitsu, consumer trust has reached a 10-year low, and only nine percent consumers say they believe a company will adequately secure their data. A report in April 2014 by Radius Global Market Research indicated that consumers are more concerned about online security, online privacy, identity theft, and fraud than other social issues such as unemployment, obesity, health insurance, and gun control. Consumers do not have a means to know how good the cybersecurity is of companies that they give their financial information to. As a result, an asymmetric information problem is taking place and the result is inefficiency in the market. The President announced in January 2015 that cybersecurity for consumers is important enough to warrant new legislation. The Federal Trade Commission has established a new office dedicated to researching and educating consumers about the risks of new technologies. These indicate a clear shift in policy by the government to cybersecurity and consumer protection.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should take its mandate to educate and create a letter grade rating system to rate companies on their cybersecurity to support the Executive branch mission to help protect consumers as announced by the President. This report card on companies would educate and allow consumers to better decide which companies to trust with their financial future and information. This system can be based off the 12 factors in the already existing Payment Card Industry guidelines. With this information, consumers would be better able to decide what companies to use, and encourage companies through consumer choice to improve the cybersecurity of their customers’ information.

Abstract:  Organ donation shortages are a problem in Nevada. A shift in policy towards an opt-out system could more than double the number of registered organ donors in Nevada. A Libertarian Paternalistic strategy would allow potential donors to express their preference for organ donations more accurately. Currently Nevada abides by an opt-in policy where people are only organ donors if they explicitly request to become donors. Under an opt-out policy, people would be presumed organ donors unless they requested not to be donors. Policy changes during the 2015 Legislative session were a good start but failed to fully utilize behavioral economics to resolve the shortage. This paper aggregates studies determining how and why people make decisions, explores potential organ donation strategies, examines opinion polls, and explains organ markets and kidney transplants more generally to suggest Nevada shift to an opt-out model for organ donations. Reform to statewide donor policy is needed; at stake are the lives of Nevada citizens currently on the waiting list and those who will be added in the coming years.


Abstract:  Recurring and fluctuating levels of economic activity known as the business cycle have a profound impact on state legislators trying to balance their finances. They result in higher unemployment, declines in revenues and a corresponding increase in the need for social welfare and public services. This makes state budgeting particularly complex during times of contraction when the state needs to do more with less. Nevada, with its limited tax base, biennial budget making, and overreliance on an industry that is highly volatile in response to economic fluctuations, experiences particularly dramatic upswings and shortfalls. Contractionary fiscal policies such as tax increases and spending cuts can slow economic recovery but are unavoidable in order to balance the budget during times of recession.

This policy brief will contend that Nevada needs to reform its revenue structure in order to better stabilize budgetary volatility in response to the business cycle and more effectively reflect the 21st-century economy. While tax reform is an issue that is revisited regularly by Nevada lawmakers with each legislative session and promises on the campaign trail, little actual progress is made because of Constitutional obstacles, special interests, lack of political will because the risk of reprimand at the ballot or poorly implemented political strategy. This brief will identify the historical and recurring barriers to tax reform in Nevada as well as list four recommendations for creating a broader, fairer and more stable tax structure including closing loopholes, diversifying and broadening the base, reflecting contemporary consumption habits, and tapping into Nevada’s unique opportunity to create a recession-proof revenue stream. Finally, it will provide a possible roadmap for how these policy changes can more effectively become a reality. The ideas discussed here are by no means comprehensive as there are a myriad of further reform possibilities, particular in regard to the relation of county and municipal taxes.

Abstract: While leading the rest of the country in population growth, immigration, and increasing ethnic and linguistic diversity, Nevada’s mostly Latin American population experiences high poverty, low educational attainment, and high employment. As a result, Nevada has increasingly high numbers of English Language Learner students (ELLs) – students who speak a language other than English at home – and show low educational attainment compared to their English speaking counterparts. According to a 2013 report from the Lincy Institute of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, if the state wants to reverse its populations’ dismal educational attainment and poor national rankings in education; extra funding, resources, and educational supports are needed for Nevada’s ELL students.


Abstract: In recent years, large government-funded solar energy projects across the nation have received increasing media attention—especially with government funded solar projects going bankrupt. This study examines the evolution of media coverage on solar energy issues, including an analysis of political differences and the role they play within two western cities that sit at the epicenter of solar energy resources in the United States, Las Vegas and Phoenix. These cities are poised to compete for and collaborate on projects for millions of dollars in federal research funds and economic development incentives dedicated to the development of solar energy. This study conducted a content analysis of national newspapers discussing solar energy within Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona. A content analysis was conducted using ProQuest Newspapers (National Newspapers Expanded). Articles from January 1, 2008, to March 25, 2013, were included in the research. A total of 205 articles were analyzed within the research, 99 for Phoenix and 106 for Las Vegas.This study found disparate media coverage on solar energy between Phoenix and Las Vegas. The Las Vegas newspaper coverage on solar projects was much more politically debated and included more negative rhetoric than the Phoenix coverage. Whereas the Phoenix articles within the study were more likely to be associated with community projects, public support, and political support for solar energy.


Abstract:  This bibliography compiles scholarly information and new reports on the topic of wind power in Nevada. As a senior at UNLV majoring in both Economics and French, I began this project in June 2010 in consultation with William E. Brown, Jr., director of planning and communications at Brookings Mountain West. This research topic interests me greatly, and I believe that expanded research and commercial development of alternative energy, including wind power, is essential to the growth and development of Nevada. My service as a Student Ambassador in the College of Business, a position that allows me to represent UNLV to the larger Las Vegas community, has confirmed this belief.