Southern Nevada’s economy will continue to improve this year and next but faces hurdles in real estate, finance and tourism, according to a new economic forecast for the region.
Clark County visitor totals are expected to grow slowly this year and pick up speed in 2014. But they will be outpaced in both years by gains in gambling revenue, according to UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research.
Local homebuilders will likely keep pulling more permits this year and next but at a somewhat slower rate than in 2012, CBER said. The center also predicted that regional job growth will be slower this year than in 2012.
Las Vegas home prices have soared 21 percent since hitting bottom in January 2012, compared to a 10 percent rise nationally during that period, according to CBER. And taxable sales are strong and climbed 5 percent during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2012, partly because of a jump in personal income, the report said. Other analysts, however, attribute the jump to people tapping into their savings accounts and relying more on credit cards.
But plenty of problems remain.
Nevada’s jobless rate of 9.5 percent is the highest in the country. And while the valley had 2 percent more visitors last year than in 2011, it saw a 0.4 percent dip during the first four months of 2013, as compared to the same period last year.
The report also pointed out that concerns about a shadow inventory — distressed homes that should have been seized by banks but are stuck in foreclosure processing delays — linger over the Las Vegas Valley, crimping the inventory of homes for sale. Nevada had the highest rate of underwater homeowners in the first quarter. About 45 percent of residents had mortgage debt that outweighed their homes’ value.
Moreover, local business owners are having more trouble getting loans. Only 67 percent of small businesses seeking credit in Southern Nevada were satisfied with what they received, down from 79 percent in the fourth quarter last year, the report found.
The report also said the U.S. economy is finally beginning to accelerate out of its weak recovery. Consumer spending is rising, sales of new and previously owned homes are on the upswing, and the unemployment rate is tapering off.