Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, feels that current trends in our region are pointing upward for our local economy. He sees Southern Nevada’s economy moving towards pre-recession levels in tourism, gaming, construction and the housing industry.
“The good news,” Brown said, “is that the Southern Nevada economy is improving and at an accelerating rate. But the great news is that the growth is widespread across Southern Nevada’s industries.”
In 2013, local visitation fell less than a half percent from the record levels of 2012. This year, local visitation is on a record pace and we are expecting to go over the 40 million visitor mark for the first time. March was the best ever month for Southern Nevada tourism.
Brown is predicting a 0.9% increase in visitors in 2014 and then 2% in 2015.
Gaming numbers are also slowly starting to pick up. The top amount for gaming was $1.1 billion in average monthly gross revenue back in 2007. We have now climbed back to over $900 million gross monthly average in 2014.
Housing prices are on the rise with Las Vegas prices up 44.8 percent since hitting bottom in early 2012. A lack of single-family housing supply is pushing up housing prices.
Nevada still has the highest percentage of homeowners that are underwater on their mortgages, but the number is slowly declining. In 2014’s first quarter, 29.4 percent of Nevada homeowners had negative equity, an improvement from the 45.4 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
Brown is also confident in Nevada’s job growth. In 2013, Nevada trailed only North Dakota with its job growth rate. Brown said we have added 19,800 jobs in the first four months this year which is a 5.1% increase.