Before the recession, in measurements analyzing 1993 through 2007, Las Vegas ranked No. 14 in the world among 150 metropolitan areas studied by the Brookings Institution and London School of Economics.
Las Vegas fell to 128th in the rankings during the recession in 2008 and 2009, and since the recovery has begun, its ranking has fallen to 146th. That’s better than only Dublin, Ireland (150); Dubai (149); Barcelona, Spain (148); and Thessaloniki, Greece (147).
The report said the patchy recovery that took hold in most U.S. cities in 2009 and 2010 didn’t happen in Las Vegas. The city’s income levels declined 1.2 percent despite an increase nationally, and the employment rate dipped 3 percent, much greater than the national decline of 0.7 percent.
The report also cited Las Vegas’ foreclosure problem with the second highest share of bank-owned homes in the country and more than two-thirds of residential mortgage holders owing more than their homes are worth.
OK, so our economy still sucks. What else is new? Well, we now know we're barely performing better than Dubai, Dublin, and Barcelona, three cities in debt wrecked countries... Countries that engaged in much of the same debt and speculation fueled "growth" that we did, by the way.
So how do we get out of this hot mess? Come on, this should sound familiar.
“The economy that Las Vegas had before the recession is not a recipe for growth in the new economy,” [Alan Berube, senior fellow and research director at Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program,] said. “There has been talk about the need to diversify and find new sources of economic growth, and that is imperative in the long run.”
The strongest growth during the recovery has taken place in more highly educated regions such as Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis; Austin, Texas; and San Francisco, Berube said. Highly educated people tend to work in industries that aren’t as affected, and if they get displaced they have an easier time shifting to a new job than someone who’s less skilled and educated, he said.
The report cited the importance of existing public and private centers of innovation such as the Solar Solutions and Advanced Clinical Training and Research centers at UNLV. Las Vegas is “out of the starting gate, but it has a lot of work to do” to take advantage of its opportunities and build from its strengths, Berube said.
The report mentioned that raising Las Vegas’ low rate of college degrees from 22 percent of adults would be crucial in helping diversify the economy.
“It’s going to be a tougher transition for your economy,” Berube said. “It’s the chicken and the egg (scenario). You need the education to build a workforce, but you have to make investments to attract those workers.”
Now isn't this what we've been talking about throughout this year? We NEED a more highly educated workforce if we want a truly sustainable and healthy economy!
Yet again, we're hit hard by reality. We can't solely rely upon "conspicuous consumption" any more. And as Americans are holding onto their money more tightly and more afraid of ramping up personal debt again, lessons from The Great Recession that aren't being forgotten just yet, Nevada can no longer rely upon a whole bunch of middle class tourists taking additional mortgages on their homes and running up their credit card debt just to "live it up in Vegas" for a few days. And as Europe is still jittery over the Greek and Irish meltdowns and Asia is nervous about the recent Korean flare up, we also can't just depend on foreign tourism to get us out of this mess.
We need a new economy. We need a more balanced economy. We need an economy that doesn't solely rely upon the casinos, and the only way we'll get there is if we fully invest in our public infrastructure, and that includes investing in our schools.
But what are we hearing out of soon-to-be-Governor Sandoval? More of the same old s--t.
Echoing Republican governors across the country, Sandoval has emerged as the state’s unlikely premier anti-tax warrior, even though his past reflects a more moderate approach to governing.
Sandoval has remained firm in the face of protests that cuts to balance the state’s $3 billion deficit in funding needed to maintain existing services will harm education, health and human services and the long-term well-being of the state.
So what does Brian Sandoval want to do? Placate his new teabagger friends by starving the state to death? Or listen to actual knowledgeable people who are urging us to finally make that down payment on diversifying our economy and creating a better Nevada?