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Distressed Communities Make Up One Third Of Nevada, Report Finds

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Bank owned homes are still found in neighborhoods around Nevada.

Nevada was one of the states hardest hit in 2008, when the housing market tanked and business growth on the Strip came to a screeching halt.

While home prices and sales are on the rise, and unemployment rates going down, one might conclude things are starting to finally pick up.

But not so fast, according to a new report out of Washington.

The Economic Innovation Group, a bipartisan policy group, found that 33 percent of Nevada’s population lives in economically distressed communities – the highest percent in the country.

Of the top 25 most distressed zip codes in Nevada, more than half were in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas.

According to John Lettieri, a co-founder and senior director for policy and strategy for the Economic Innovation Group, the report looked at seven factors, including educational attainment, housing vacancy rate, unemployment rate, poverty level, median income ratio, change in employment and change in business establishment.

The group believes looking at all of those factors painted a more accurate picture of what is really going on in communities still struggling from the Great Recession.

“What we saw across the country in areas that were the housing crisis hit the hardest these have been the areas that have typically been the slowest to climb out of the hole and that’s certainly true of Nevada,” Lettieri said.

Lettieri said Las Vegas wasn’t able to “weather the storm” because it is essentially a “one industry town.” A criticism that has been leveled at Southern Nevada for a number of years.

But, he said Nevada is not the only area of the country dealing with a lackluster recovery.

“This recovery that we’ve experienced over the past several years has been slow, uneven, relatively tepid and unlike previous recoveries that were much quicker and much more robust,” he remarked.

While most people understand how Southern Nevada and many other communities around the country became distressed, solutions for that distress seem to be a lot more elusive.

Lettieri said creating a place for new businesses to grow and flourish is vital to improving the economy anywhere in the country.

“New businesses account for all of net new jobs as a country. Existing businesses shed about a 1 million jobs a year,” Lettieri said.

He believes policy makers should look for ways to better fund new businesses and encourage entrepreneurship around the country not just in a few areas.

“We can’t have this fragmented approach around the country where a few communities are doing very well in terms of access to capital and innovation and entrepreneurship and others are essentially being passed over,” Lettieri said.





John Lettieri, co-founder and senior director for policy and strategy,  Economic Innovation Group;  Dina Neal, Nevada Assemblywoman

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.