Southern Nevada’s economy is continuing its slow crawl out of the recession, UNLV analysts said Wednesday, with tourism and gaming leading the way and real estate and unemployment continuing to be a drag on sustained growth.
Stephen Brown, director of UNLV’s Center for Business & Economic Research, said at a midyear economic outlook presentation that the economy wouldn't return to its full potential until 2017, giving credence to those who theorized that the Great Recession would be a lost decade.
Brown told the 200 attendees at the presentation that, while visitor volume in Southern Nevada could reach a record high in 2012, the region was still being dragged down by the 11.6 percent jobless rate and a construction industry that cratered to a level deeper than anyone had envisioned.
He also said the state having the nation’s highest percentage of underwater homes and near-negative equity mortgages stood in the way significant economic improvement.
“Our construction index is low by historic standards,” Brown said. “There’s evidence that it’s coming off the bottom, but it’s a really deep bottom.”
Brown’s hour-long presentation, held at the Venetian, was framed around effects of the world economy, U.S. economic conditions and details about why Southern Nevada has been so slow to recover. Following the presentation, a panel of economic experts drilled further into specific regional issues confronting sustained growth for the area.