The Las Vegas unemployment rate seems to be declining -- that's the good news. Vegas, among the fastest-growing urban regions in the 1990s and early 2000s, was hit particularly hard by the late-2000s recession, with an unemployment rate rivaling Detroit.
The bad news is that the decline seems to be somewhat of a mirage, thanks to unemployed dropping out of the labor force by moving out of the region or state:
The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported today there were an estimated 128,300 people out of work in the Las Vegas area, down from 144,200 in December.
Statewide, the unemployment rate fell from 14.9 percent in December to 14.2 percent in January, the department said.
In explaining the decline in unemployment, Bill Anderson, chief economist for the department, said "It appears some jobless Nevadans are becoming discouraged and giving up their search for work and dropping out of the labor market.
"In addition, given stagnant population levels, it is also likely that some Nevadans are leaving the state," he said.
Signs that the Las Vegas slide is not abating: fewer construction jobs in the region; fewer hospitality workers in the hotels and casinos; rising gas prices could hamper toursim unto the future. Some positive note: visitor statistics, gaming win and taxable sales exceeded expectations.
... Postive signs are relative, though -- while gaming win beat expectations, the numbers are still lousy:
"Shares of Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts and Wynn are each traded [3 percent] lower today as State of Nevada's Gaming Control Board issued somewhat disappointing sales figures for the month of January. The state regulator said that total 'gaming win' within Nevada fell 0.67 percent on a year-over-year basis to $877.41 million. For the fiscal year (July 1, 2010 through Jan. 31, 2011), gaming win rose 1.18 percent to about $6.12 billion."
Odds and ends
Harrah's New Orleans casino is sued because of its indoor smoking policy ... The stage show returns to Atlantic City ... Majestic Star makes peace with Gary, Ind., and ratifies its bankruptcy plan ..."Smoking must remain" at West Virginia racetracks and casinos, for competitive reasons.
From The Meadows in Washington County:
"The Meadows Racetrack & Casino today announced it is introducing a new, automated rewards system for table games. The automated rewards system uses smart chip readers to manage the accumulation of table players' points. This system is very similar to the slot machine point accumulation system that has been used for years to accurately reward play. Currently, most casinos 'guesstimate' the level of play at their tables. The Meadows' automated system is among the most accurate systems of table games rewards in the world."