Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009 | 1:19 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today he expects the Nevada economy to show signs of turnaround next year – just in time to boost voter mood as he campaigns for re-election.
“I feel that Nevada, like the rest of the states in the country, next year is going to see economic recovery,” Reid told reporters when asked about his political situation with low poll numbers in the state. “Once that takes place, I think there’s going to be a general good feeling all over the country, including Nevada.”
Reid was also asked about potential Republican challenger Danny Tarkanian, the former UNLV basketball player who is making the rounds in Washington today. Tarkanian met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky this morning and was meeting this afternoon with the campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
“At last count there are 10 Republicans involved in that primary,” Reid said. “We’ll deal with Republicans when that’s necessary. Right now that’s not necessary. Right now I have a job to do for the people of the state of Nevada and the people of this country. I’m doing my very best to move this agenda along.”
Nevada’s unemployment rate is among the worst in the nation at 12.7 percent – higher in Las Vegas. Widespread job losses have been felt in the construction industry as the real estate and credit bubbles burst halting new construction, and in the service industry as visitors opted against gambling getaways during the recession.
“We all know that unemployment always lags behind economic recovery,” Reid noted. But he pointed to comments this morning from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as hopeful, saying it “appears at this stage that the recession has bottomed out and that the change is taking place.”
Reid’s optimism is a bit at odds with the economic outlook offered by forecasters at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who said this summer they expect another two years before recovery.
UNLV’s Keith Schwer said last week that even as the national economy begins its expansion, the “severity of the current difficulties in the Silver State will surely continue as the job picture recovers slowly.”
Schwer noted that some indicators show that consumers’ future travel and entertainment spending may reset to lower levels than before the recession as belts stay tightened – which could mean a further drag on the tourism-dependent Las Vegas economy.
“The-all-important consumer will need to recover from the current recession before one might expect marked improvement in Nevada,” Schwer said.
Whether that will happen in time for Election Day remains to be seen.