Professor: Nevada Needs More Educated Workers

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas is the least-educated major metropolitan area in the West and also boasts the most volatile economy in the United States, a sociology professor studying Nevada's economy told state leaders Friday.

Robert Lang, director of Brookings Mountain West at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, painted a grim landscape for a city once considered the most affluent major Western city in the country and a last bastion for low-educated workers seeking middle-class wages.

Nevada can no longer count on the gambling industry to keep afloat its communities or state coffers, Lang said. "We are way more dependent on consumer spending than anywhere else," he said at Nevada 2.0, an economic summit being held Friday at UNLV.

Nevada leaders have for years called for expanding Nevada's economy beyond gambling, tourism and construction. But few changes have been made, and the state's unemployment rate of 14.3 percent is the highest in the nation. Nationally, the unemployment rate has fallen to 9.4 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

The Silver State also suffers from record bankruptcies and foreclosures. "We've been on the same course for decades and it's clear to everyone here that it is time for a change," said Nevada Assembly Speaker John Oceguera.

Business leaders and government officials from Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City are scheduled to speak at the summit to discuss how technological improvements and marketing strategies helped their communities.

Participants are also slated to discuss how state leaders can strengthen the state economy by training workers. Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford said Nevada cannot tackle its record unemployment unless state leaders improve public schools.

 (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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