Southern Nevada is bouncing back from the recession and could receive an added push as the national economy continues to gain strength, according to a series of monthly indices released today by UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, or CBER.
The center’s Clark County Business Activity index was up 2.99 percent in October when compared with October 2010, with a significant boost coming from a 10.4 percent jump in gaming revenues. The improvement was largely attributed to visitor volume recovering to nearly the level it reached in 2007, when a record 39 million tourists came here.
"Uncertainty remains, but it appears the Southern Nevada economy has turned the corner," CBER Assistant Director Bob Potts wrote in the report.
Earlier this month, CBER Director Stephen Brown told an audience of 300 business and community leaders gathered for a twice-yearly breakfast meeting at The M Resort that “today’s tourists look a little bit different than the ones we saw in 2007,” explaining that Southern Nevada tourists have been staying longer while gambling less.
The research center’s Clark County Tourism Index posted solid growth in October, according to the new CBER report. The index was up by 7.26 percent from the previous month and 6.25 percent above October last year. All three indicators that make up the index are higher than a year earlier. In addition to the rise in gaming revenues, passenger counts grew by 4.5 percent and occupancy rates increased 2.4 percent.
“The Tourism Index now stands at its highest value since July 2008, which provides encouraging evidence that our tourist-based economy is coming out of recession,” Potts reported.
Taxable sales were up 9.3 percent over the same period, although they were down 1.7 percent in October as compared with September. Employment climbed a modest 1.3 percent during the 12-month period ended in October, according to the report.
“In short, key indicators of economic activity in Southern Nevada are improving,” Potts wrote.
Despite the modest improvement, the construction sector continued its five-year collapse, although the rate of decline has slowed, a direct reflection of the huge decline in regional construction.
Since October 2010, construction employment fell 6.8 percent, commercial permits by 10.0 percent and residential permits by 44.7 percent.
“There were only 220 residential and 18 commercial permits pulled in October, which does not represent much activity in a county the size of Clark,” Potts said in the report. “Until excess inventories built during the real estate bubble years are absorbed, Southern Nevada construction activity will remain low.”
More than 70,000 construction jobs have been lost in the region since 2006, when the construction sector was the region’s No. 2 employer, trailing only the gaming and lodging sector.