Las Vegas suffering like never before
Gambling revenues have hit the skids, accompanied by the collapse of the construction industry. Confidence that the return of tourists will revive the city and the state is absent.
By ADAM NAGOURNEY, New York Times
Last update: October 2, 2010 - 6:03 PM
There are many cities across the country that are beginning to see the first glimpses of the end of the recession.
This is not one of them.
The nation's gambling capital is staggering under a confluence of economic forces that has sent Las Vegas into what officials describe as its deepest economic rut since casinos first began rising in the desert there in the 1940s.
Even as city leaders remain hopeful that gambling revenues will rebound with the nation's economy, experts pro- ject that it will not be enough to make up for an even deeper realignment that has taken place in the course of this recession: the collapse of the construction industry, which was the other economic pillar of the city and the state.
Unemployment in Nevada is 14.4 percent, the highest in the nation and a stark contrast to the 3.8 percent unemployment rate there just 10 years ago; in Las Vegas, it is 14.7 percent.
August was the 44th consecutive month in which Nevada led the nation in housing foreclosures.
The Plaza Hotel and Casino, which is downtown, recently announced that it was laying off 400 workers and closing its hotel and parts of its casino for eventual renovation, the latest high-profile hit to a city that has seen a steady parade of them.
"It's been in bad shape before, but not this bad," said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "If you look at the gaming revenues, they have declined and continue to decline over the past three years.
"September 11 set off a two-year slowdown," Schwartz said. "But nothing of this magnitude."