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Are New Jobs Are On The Way?
Are New Jobs Are On The Way?

AIR DATE: December 21, 2011

Many experts say that Las Vegas’ economy will see a slight uptick in 2012, mainly due to increased revenue from—you guessed it–gaming and tourism. In December, the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation reported that Nevada’s unemployment rate fell for the first time in six months.

It appears that next year, our economy might start edging its way into recovery mode. About 1 percent growth in job opportunities. Better some increase than nothing, right?

But despite those small gains predictions we will still likely continue to float along the bottom. So what will this small, positive change in economic growth mean to Las Vegas?

And, more importantly: How do we turn this small uptick into jobs?

One of the road blocks, according to Stephen Brown, director of UNLV's Center for Business and Economic Research, is that despite the fact that visitor volume is up in Las Vegas, they simply don’t have as much cash to spend.

Yet, getting the visitors here is the first step, he says. There’s simply less money to go around these days.


"What really matters now is not rooms but visitor volume,” Brown says. “As we fill up the rooms, people will be hired.”

"Nevada is known for being a low-tax state. That has been an advantage to Nevada in the past, and that will be an advantage in the future,” Brown says. Traditionally, he says, it was the large firms who created lots of jobs, but these days, it’s the smaller ones. The smaller ones, because they aren’t nearly as flush with cash, benefit greatly from Nevada’s low-business-tax environment.

"The city is well-suited now for another Zappos,” he says. That would be great news, wouldn’t it?

James Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics with the The Heritage Foundation, saysthat “the reason we have such high unemployment is not the job losses is the lack of job creation." By keeping low taxes on the rich, he says, “job creators” will be able to hire more people, thus creating a healthier economy overall.

Those successful people, rich businesspeople,  need to feel secure enough to use their ingenuity and big money to create more jobs, he says.

"We want to encourage success,” Sherk says. "It's through the free-market system of competition where the jobs come from."

John Restrepo, principal at RCG Economics, a consulting group, says higher-paying, available jobs will be key to a healthier economy. Nevada, he says, banked on the fact that a one-track economy, one based almost entirely on tourism, would thrive forever. That clearly isn’t going to work anymore, he says.

For an example, Restrepo points to the construction sector, which once provided lots of well-paying job to lots of people. It got to the point where, the old cliché came true, he says: “"Construction workers building houses for other construction workers."

The healthcare industry, he says, and a stronger public sector, will be the keys to our region’s job recovery and growth.

Still, the total loss of more than 150,000 jobs in just four years is going to take a long time to bounce back. It might be another five or 10 years before we see unemployment significantly lower than 10 percent, Restrepo says.

Brown says he agrees, that is, “unless we see a dramatic change in the national economy.”

How can we create more jobs in Las Vegas? Continue the conversation in the comment section below.

Stephen Brown, director, UNLV's Center for Business and Economic Research
John Restrepo, principal, RCG Economics
James Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics, The Heritage Foundation


    comments powered by Disqus
    I think the Heritage Foundation guest played fast and loose with some facts. Did he say that only 1 out of 10 startups become Googles and Facebooks?

    Oh that the success rate was that high. While this will support the argument that these are risky. It brings into question his grasp of facts. Also, he said that many of the popular economic reforms have been tried in Europe and did not work. He sites France and Germany. I dunno about France butisn't Germany the powerhouse of Europe? (and perhaps the world) Tremendous financial discipline (and in other areas!), high educational attainment, and it is my understanding that unemployment has come down in the past few years.

    I'm going to listen to the mp3 later see if I heard him right. I am told the Heritage Foundation is quite conservative and I have not been impressed with the quality of their arguments and proposals in the past. This guest solidifies my impression.

    Aunty PalinDec 19, 2011 09:52:46 AM
    He also mentioned that Google, Apple and Dell did not exist 40 years ago. I agree with this statement but I will ask how many jobs have these companies created? Most of the high paying jobs in these companies are for highly educated technical people and this gets back to Nevada's relatively low educational status. Granted these companies are younger than the old growth pillars like GE, GM, Ford, and Chrysler and they also have fewer employees. (worldwide BTW) GE 287,000 GM 209,000 Ford 164,000 Chrysler 51,000 Dell 100,000 Apple 60,000 Google 31000 Facebook 3000 And how much US produced content is actually in Apple and Dell products? I bet most of the parts are made overseas. If hi-tech is the where the future hot jobs are, then most Americans are in trouble. And that's all I have to say about that.
    Aunty PalinDec 19, 2011 10:25:38 AM
    If you look at the top 0.1% you see: 43% are executives at non-financial companies, 18% are in finance and 12% are in law or real estate. That's 73%, and none of those are people whose job creation is either: 1. significant, or 2. strongly effected by marginal tax rates.

    Given that we have had disproportionate job cuts for the top 5%, 1% and 0.1%, why on earth in extremis (and we are unarguably in extremis) should we not raise their rates back at least to Clinton era levels?

    Scott SwankDec 19, 2011 09:38:59 AM
    Drat. I meant to type that we have had disproportionate "tax cuts" for the wealthiest Americans. Sadly I typed "job cuts" -- which is not at all accurate.
    Scott SwankDec 19, 2011 09:44:35 AM
    Scott sorry but I am going to piggyback on your comment with a sort of related comment about how many of the KNPR pledge drive matching donors seem to be banks and lawyers. I guess that's where the money is and will be. The parasites become the hosts...
    Aunty PalinDec 19, 2011 10:29:24 AM
    What about education as a powerful factor in our economy? Businesses want a educated pool from which to draw applicants, and those considering moving their businesses and families here want a decent place to raise their children. With a worsening education, that is already one of, if not the, worst in the nation, Nevada has a lot working against it. What can we do to convince our lawmakers to do something about it?
    JakeDec 19, 2011 09:32:04 AM
    How to convince the politicos? Vote em out of office? Torches, tar and feathers? (kidding, kind of) OCCUPY BABY! OCCUPY! (and KNPR how come this software doesn't keep my line breaks / new paragraphs? Will I have to experiment with html codes?)
    Aunty PalinDec 19, 2011 09:59:00 AM
    The Brookings Institute's Mountain West report on the Las Vegas economy pointed out that we have far fewer medical jobs than we should for our population. What would it take to see genuine growth in that sector? Do we simply have too few people with decent medical insurance, or is there another impediment here?
    Scott SwankDec 19, 2011 09:10:13 AM
    We already have tourism infrastructure, so why not add light rail lines that crisscross the state and promote eco-tourism?
    Sondra CosgroveDec 19, 2011 08:23:59 AM
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