December 10, 2012- The Southern Nevada economy is continuing to recover and will see slow improvement with strengthening tourism, gaming and hospitality industries, UNLV economists at the Center for Business & Economic Research Center (CBER) reported Monday during a biannual economic outlook conference.
Renewed economic vigor in Southern Nevada and statewide is expected, but likely not until the second half of 2013, CBER economists predict. Construction also continues to show signs of coming off the bottom.
“We can expect moderate and sustainable growth through 2015,” said Stephen Brown, director of CBER. “Las Vegas still has a long way to go until we get to the record numbers of 2007, but we are growing and we are optimistic.”
Despite the global economic slowdown, the Las Vegas area saw an increase of 6,400 jobs, or almost 1 percent, since last December. Unemployment has dropped to 11.4 percent, but Nevada still leads all states in unemployment.
As the U.S. and western states’ economies improve, they will continue to stimulate local tourism, according to an assessment of national and regional economic trends. As of September, Clark County has experienced 29 consecutive months of increased tourism. Nevada’s general economic conditions also are on the upswing, with moderate gains projected in 2013 for personal income, gross gaming revenue, employment and population.
Economists also found:
Taxable sales have been particularly strong – 6.7 percent higher in the first two months of the third quarter 2012 than in the same period of 2011. Personal income also rose in 2010 and 2011 in Nevada and Clark County.
Clark County saw a small population uptick in 2012 after holding steady the past four years. More out-of-state drivers are also turning in their drivers’ licenses for a Nevada licenses. Combined with reports of a tightening rental market, the upswing in redeemed drivers licenses is consistent with renewed population growth.
Despite some recent gains in gaming, Clark County gross gaming revenue was 12.8 percent lower during the first nine months of 2012 than in the same period in 2007. Gaming revenue for the Las Vegas Strip grew by less in 2012 than in the previous year.
Housing prices in the Las Vegas metropolitan area and United States hit bottom in January 2012. They have risen by 6.9 percent this year. In comparison, U.S. housing prices have risen only 4.7 percent.
Visitor volume in Clark County still has yet to reach the high-water mark of 43,915,649 set in 2007; a 4.2 percent increase over 2011 is needed, which economists say is unlikely to happen this year.
The visitor picture is much stronger for Las Vegas. Local visitor volume has already exceeded the levels seen in 2007 before the U.S. recession. For the first nine months of 2012, Las Vegas visitor volume averaged 3.1 percent higher than for the same period in 2011. If Las Vegas visitor volume continues at the same pace for the remaining months of 2012, it will exceed the high-water mark of 39,196,761 set in 2007.
The CBER conference, held twice a year, forecasts economic trends for the U.S. and Southern Nevada. Data is complied from state employment, gaming and tourism agencies to analyze local and national economic trends.
For more information, visit CBER at the Lee Business School.
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 27,000 students and 2,900 faculty and staff. Founded in 1957, the university offers more than 220 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs. UNLV is located on a 332-acre campus in dynamic Southern Nevada and is classified in the category of Research Universities (high research activity) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.