August 2, 2009

Economists: Vegas’s good times are over

Flat or much slower population growth and higher-than-average unemployment faces Las Vegas unless its economy is broadened, experts say.

Local economists say the good old days of explosive growth in the gaming industry and new residents flocking to the city from across the country are over and won't be coming back, the Las Vegas Sun reported Sunday.

We will lag the national economy instead of leading it, University of Nevada-Las Vegas economist Bill Robinson told the newspaper.

National recessions in the past two decades had been softened in Las Vegas by the opening of tourist-magnet resorts such as the Mirage in 1989 and the Palms after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But there will be no such luck this time, the newspaper said, with California -- home of Vegas's biggest client base -- facing 11.6 percent unemployment and a home foreclosure crisis.

We have excess capacity and excess labor supply, Keith Schwer, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, told the Sun, while John Restrepo of the state's official forecasting body the Economic Forum noted a fundamental shift in American attitudes toward spending and debt.