An Update on the Las Vegas Economy

As we approach the end of 2017, the Las Vegas economy is still in recovery, but seemingly recovering well. Whether or not that recovery is as robust as the analysts’ numbers seem to indicate remains to be seen. What cannot be questioned, however, is the number of jobs that have been added in 2017 due to the obstructions to faster growth continually subsiding throughout the year. Real estate is clearly recovering all over the City, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest point in over five years. Construction companies and manufacturers are adding gaming and jobs, particularly on the Las Vegas Strip, and Las Vegas offices are working on a strategic plan that addresses the needed improvements in transportation, education, and public safety spawned by the growth.

As of 2017, approximately 20,800 jobs were added throughout the year. Resort and retail industries are leading the local job growth that has forced the pre-recession job level to where it was about a year ago, and payrolls have increased by 34,100 year-over-year each March. The Economic Forum indicates that Nevada will be adding approximately 52,000 jobs in 2016, and approximately 60,000 jobs in 2017, which is twice the rate over what it is today. Despite the constant growth, Nevada still had about 87,000 more jobs back in 2007, but a pre-recession high is expected by mid-2016.

The Las Vegas restaurant scene has rebounded to the point where it is one of the most competitive scenes in the entire country, with continual growth encompassing numerous fronts. Whether it is being generated from individual concepts such as Downtown Summerlin, or national chain like White Castle or Chick-fil-A, this growth is providing the local labor market with a constant supply of available workers in the restaurant industry.

The hospitality and leisure sector encompasses the largest private work force in Las Vegas, obviously due to the large convention and tourism presence, and currently boasts about 280,000 workers. Though Las Vegas still trails behind the tourism sector in Orlando, Florida, activity in this sector shows a steady increase in visitors to Clark County and positive projections for 2016.

Other sizable sectors are business and professional services, transportation, trade, and utilities. The construction sector is the likelihood for future growth in the labor force through 2022, creating the fastest growing occupations for roofers, cost estimators, cement masons, and concrete finishers.

With an abundance of jobs, however, turnover becomes a factor, and the turnover rate for Las Vegas is one of the highest nationally with a margin of 26 percent.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about two million people residing in Clark County right now, assisting with the growth in the local housing market. Median prices of homes have increased 5.1 percent from just a year ago, and median prices for townhomes and condominiums have increased about 13.9 percent.

As for median household income, Las Vegas is just slightly lower than the national average, by about $2,000 annually. Per capita income is also lower than the national median, by about $3,000.

The economy for Southern Nevada is undoubtedly on the rise, and is currently a leader in economic growth. Despite the gains, Nevada claims the highest percentage of homeowners that have negative equity in their homes, yet housing in Las Vegas remains the most affordable in the United States. These low housing costs will ultimately help the local economy continue to grow. The forecasts into 2017 are positive.

There is questionable outcome surrounding one of the year’s major factors, which is the performance of the Tesla factory that is yet to be constructed. Earlier this year, labor unions were advising that Tesla stopped production of its 10 million-square-foot facility, yet officials for Tesla denied those reports and stated that construction was, in fact, ahead of schedule. Originally slated to receive $1.3 billion in tax breaks from Nevada, Tesla advised of their intent to develop renewable energy batteries for home storage, yet this submarket is completely speculative and the potential it will bring to the Las Vegas area remains unknown.