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July 31, 2014

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Report: Las Vegas-area employment will rebound by 2016

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A floor supervisor trains the craps table dealers at the Margaritaville casino inside the Flamingo on Friday, Sept. 30, 2011.

The Southern Nevada economy is on the rebound, and employment will return to pre-recession levels by early 2016, according to forecasters at UNLV.

Researchers at the university's Center for Business and Economic Research released a semiannual report Tuesday that says this year's recovery should be stronger than last year's, and 2015 should bring even faster improvements.

"The good news is that the southern Nevada economy is improving, and at an accelerating rate," the report's authors wrote. "The great news is that the growth is widespread across southern Nevada's industries."

Economic development officials have been focused on diversifying Nevada's tourism-heavy economy, which tanked when the recession hit and gutted potential visitors' disposable income. The Las Vegas area has added 35,500 jobs since the beginning of 2013, and the study's authors note that all sectors except for the information and financial sectors are seeing employment growth in 2014.

The report points out bright spots in the state's leisure and hospitality sector, noting that Las Vegas is on track to break its record of 39.7 million visitors in one year. But it also notes that gambling revenues in Clark County were 13.3 percent below their pre-recession peak as of March 2014.

Visitor spending on non-gambling activities — which is three times more than gambling revenue — dropped more sharply in Las Vegas than overall U.S. personal income during the recession.

Since reaching a trough in 2009, American spending on food and lodging is up 22.7 percent. Non-gambling spending in Las Vegas is up 28.2 percent over that period, although it's 2.5 percent below its pre-recession peak.

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