Saturday, October 15, 2011

Las Vegas: the dream goes bust

I've never been to Las Vegas. I've always felt that if I want to spend all my time indoors, being systematically fleeced of all my money, there are cheaper ways of getting it done. However, I know many people regard it as a 'fun' destination. That appears to be changing thanks to the current economic climate, according to an article in the Telegraph.

To the tourists who flock up and down the Strip, the impact of the recession on Las Vegas might not be immediately apparent. The casinos still thrum with cries of jubilation and, more often, the groans of disappointment. Queues still form at the hotel-theatres where 'The Lion King' and 'Viva ELVIS' are playing.

Few people have any reason to venture into the suburbs, where, if you look carefully, a different vision of Las Vegas presents itself: the rows of foreclosed properties; the mile upon mile of unfinished housing developments; the 'going out of business’ signs on shops.

For a period in the 1990s and 2000s, Las Vegas was the fastest-growing city in America. Drawn by the flourishing fortunes of the casino industry (and too by Nevada’s benign tax laws: the State has no individual or corporate income tax, most of its revenue coming from gambling and sales taxes), workers flocked to the city. In the four years leading up to 2007, the population increased by 104 per cent – the largest population growth of any city in the entire United States. (It now stands at 2.03 million.)

But Las Vegas’s days as a boom town are long gone. At 14 per cent, unemployment is the highest in America (the national average is 9.1 per cent). House prices have fallen 58.1 per cent since their 2006 high – the biggest losses of anywhere in America, while according to the website RealtyTrac, which specialises in foreclosed properties, Las Vegas is the nation’s foreclosure capital. Some 70 per cent of homes in Las Vegas are thought to be 'under water’, or in negative equity, meaning their value is worth less than the amount owed on the mortgage, while foreclosure notices have been served on one in 16 properties. A survey last year by the local Las Vegas Review-Journal and Channel 8 News Now found that 34 per cent of locals would leave Las Vegas if they could find a job elsewhere, or if they weren’t underwater on their home loan.

There's more at the link. It makes sobering reading.



Old NFO said...

And if they cut the military as much as we're hearing, Northern Virginia will not be far behind... sad story, no question.

Silver the Evil Chao said...

Oh, there's proof on the Strip of the recession. I was there last January (for the first time in two years since I left for college!) and there are a LOT of impersonators and street performers on the Strip now, trying to get money.

trailbee said...

It's sort of ironic that it was not the lack of water that did this city in, but our national economy.

Anonymous said...

My parents live there, and it's a very different place away from the Strip. They're very happy there, but I can't take more than a week of it.


Christina RN LMT said...

I got out of there barely in time. My friends who stayed are all working two or three jobs, just trying to keep their heads above water. Many of them have lost their homes, some of them had to move back in with their folks, or get roommates. It's sad.