Nevada Recovery Still a Crapshoot


A Las Vegas Sun columnist offers a look at why Nevada’s economy is still in turmoil as much of the country expects some recovery this year. The reasons are varied, and I’d advise reading the entire piece as it could prove interesting for the myriad Hoosiers who travel westward each year for the promise of a comped buffet.

Moody’s Economy.com recently plotted the 50 states on where they are on the path to recovery: 11 are in actual recovery and 38 are seeing the recession moderate. The one state remaining: Nevada, still considered to be in significant economic contraction, with no clear end in sight.

At this economic inflection point in which the rest of the country appears to be entering recovery — however tepid and uncertain — Nevada still lags far behind.

No doubt the 13.9 percent of Las Vegas residents officially unemployed — and the unknown number out of work so long they’ve quit looking — want to know why recovery is happening in other states but remains a distant mirage here.

Economists and local analysts say the reasons aren’t very complicated.

“Our economic growth was, frankly, unsustainable,” says Elliott Parker, an economist at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Primarily, our economy was too focused on building stuff — stuff no one wants or needs now.

As Jeremy Aguero of the economic research firm Applied Analysis notes, 12.5 percent of our workforce is in construction (or was, anyway), more than double the national average of 5.5 percent.

That was great when people were moving here and needed houses, stores and casinos, and when tourists were clamoring for more hotel rooms. But that’s all finished.

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