LAS VEGAS -- It's being called "the recovery only a statistician could love." Business leaders at UNLV's mid-year economic outlook have little good news about Las Vegas' job future.
The next several years could be known as a "lost decade" in Las Vegas. There is business growth out there, but it's glacially slow, leaving most people who aren't employed right now out of luck.
"No job growth and flat wages is not the formula for a robust recovery," said John Restrepo with RCG Economics. "Flat is the new up-cycle, essentially. Be happy we're flat."
UNLV brings together analysts and Nevada business leaders at the Venetian every June for their forum. They project Las Vegas unemployment levels to stay at around 12 percent all of 2012.
Corporate profits are at a nationwide record of $1.4 trillion. But economists say because those corporations piled on $12 trillion in debt during the boom years, they won't be hiring in large numbers any time soon.
"I see people spending more money everywhere we go. I see more visitors down the Strip. Food, though, is more expensive -- everything else is more expensive," said resident Greg Sullivan.
"I just do not see it. I don't see people spending. I don't see the traffic on the streets. I don't see the people in the stores," said resident Nancy Horns.
Nevada's Division of Welfare announced Monday the need for food stamps is up significantly. Over 329,000 Nevadans are getting state help for food. While Nevada is the 35th ranked state in population, we are ranked third in food stamps.
Another danger hanging above the Las Vegas economy is the unknown number of bank-owned homes, or those in the foreclosure process not yet on the real-estate market. Experts guess the "shadow inventory" to be around 60,000 homes.
One silver lining is the money homeowners are withholding on their mortgages is often spent on local businesses. It's being called a "soft stimulus."
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