Mount Rose latest Tahoe ski resort to boost minimum wage, up to $11 an hour | SierraSun.com

Mount Rose latest Tahoe ski resort to boost minimum wage, up to $11 an hour

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com
This week, Mount Rose Ski Tahoe announced it will up minimum wage for most employees to $11 an hour.
Courtesy Thinkstock.com | iStockphoto

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Mount Rose Ski Tahoe is boosting minimum wage for all positions that were previously below to $11 per hour.

Beginning Sept. 1, the ski resort between Incline Village and Reno will start paying the increased rate to employees in nearly all departments, including base operations, ski school, food and beverage, terrain parks, lift operations, rental and retail operations, ski patrol and tickets.

The resort will pay an entry-level wage that is 33 percent higher than Nevada’s $8.25 mandated minimum wage.

Mike Pierce, director of marketing with the resort, said Mount Rose is not raising minimum wage based on inflation, meaning if Nevada were to raise minimum wage above $11, the resort would reevaluate its entry-level pay.

“To get those kids up the mountain, you have to offer them a competitive wage.”Brian BonnenfantUniversity of Nevada, Reno

“We just wanted to offer our employees a fair wage,” he said.

The company employs about 500 workers during its peak ski season, which reduces to about 50, mostly salaried employees, in the offseason, Pierce said.

STRONG EMPLOYEES

In an Aug. 3 letter to employees, Pierce noted the goal is to continue providing guests with high quality service, and that the hike will help the company stay competitive when searching for workers.

“We want to get strong employees and those who want to work here,” he said. “We are confident this wage increase will help us to both remain competitive as an employer, and attract and retain top talent across a variety of positions both on snow and in other departments that regularly engage with our guests.”

Mount Rose is among a host of companies boosting minimum wage while the country waits to see if federal and state lawmakers will do the same.

Vail Resorts, which owns regional ski resorts Northstar California, Kirkwood Mountain and Heavenly Mountain, recently increased minimum wage to $10 per hour.

Company CEO Rob Katz wrote in a letter to employees the hike would help keep the company competitive in the search for quality workers.

“We are taking this step because it is incumbent on us to do the right thing for our employees as well as remain competitive as an employer,” Kurtz wrote.

At peak times of the winter season, Vail Resorts employs about 25,000 workers.

Large-scale companies such as Target, McDonald’s, Walmart and Ikea also have announced increases to their minimum wages or plans to do so, noting a similar desire to attract a more competitive professional.

The Obama administration has pushed for increasing the federally mandated minimum wage; however, 29 states, including Nevada, already have wages above the $7.25 federal level.

TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT?

Meanwhile, Nevada’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the country, at 6.9 percent, with as many as 1.2 million employed in a state of more than 2.8 million citizens, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Silver State’s rate is slightly higher than Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

The medium home value in Nevada is $200,600, according to Zillow.com, which represents an 8.1 percent increase year over year.

The real estate market research website predicts that statistic to rise another 5.2 percent within the next year. Median rent price in Nevada is $1,200.

However, in a state that drives employees and businesses toward its larger, more industrious cities, the issue for a niche community where Mount Rose resides boils down to labor shortage, said Brian Bonnenfant, project manager with University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Regional Studies in the College of Business.

“Locally, they have a major problem with labor shortage,” Bonnenfant said. “To get those kids up the mountain, you have to offer them a competitive wage.”

It creates conflict with those larger Nevada cities, he added, as incentives to live there lead more professionals there.

Further, Bonnenfant said, any increase in labor costs at Mount Rose will almost certainly be passed along to guests.

“You’re going to see things like commodities, rentals and retail rise,” Bonnenfant said. “This is definitely what you are witnessing.”