Las Vegas Sun

March 4, 2015

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All signs point to continuing Las Vegas exodus


Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

U-Haul Moving & Storage General Manager Mike Lanza, left, assists a family renting a 17-foot truck Tuesday for their move from Henderson to Sparks.

Leaving Las Vegas?

David Stevens, 35, studies the equipment inside the cab of the 26-foot truck he rented Tuesday to move his father-in-law from Henderson to San Francisco. Launch slideshow »
Jeremy Aguero

Jeremy Aguero

John Restrepo

John Restrepo

With emerging signs of economic recovery across the country, a slow but steady stream of Las Vegans is moving away in search of better luck, in stark contrast to the unprecedented influx of residents during the region’s boom years.

“People are moving out more than usual,” said Sherry Clark, a sales representative for the moving company Allstate Moving in Las Vegas.

Among U-Haul rentals, more are heading out of town than arriving, by a 2 percent margin, said Joanne Fried, U-Haul International director of media and public relations. And outward traffic is slightly higher this year compared with 2009.

Mayflower Transit and United Van Lines moving companies have reported decreases in incoming and outgoing traffic for Clark County since 2007, but the number of people moving to the valley has plummeted more than the number leaving.

Among those leaving is a 30-year-old plumber and mechanic who swayed his 2-year-old daughter in his arms, trying to keep her entertained while awaiting the keys for a 17-foot U-Haul truck he would drive from Henderson to Reno. After 10 years of trying in vain to find a steady job, he is giving up on Las Vegas.

“You can’t find work here,” he said, declining to give his name.

The Census Bureau estimates that from July 2008 to July 2009, the migration out of Clark County exceeded the migration in by more than 1,000. The year before — when the recession wasn’t as severe — the opposite was true, with inbound exceeding outbound by more than 14,000.

Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst for the consulting firm Applied Analysis, said he expects that outbound migration will continue to overshadow incoming migration. Fewer driver’s licenses have been surrendered at the DMV compared with past years, meaning fewer people have been moving here and turning in their old licenses, he said.

In July, 4,683 licenses were surrendered, down 3.3 percent from 4,845 in July 2009. The figure has been dropping since 2004, when 8,889 licenses were surrendered in July, the highest on record, Aguero said.

There has also been an increase in one-way bus tickets out of Las Vegas, he said.

Some analysts say they had anticipated even more people leaving Dodge, and suggest the reason is that many residents are struggling to sell their homes or have not been able to find work elsewhere. The national unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, compared with 14.8 percent in Las Vegas.

“We’re in such bad shape here you’d think a lot more people would be leaving,” said John Restrepo, principal analyst for Restrepo Consulting Group. “And maybe they would if they could, but they’re kind of stuck.”

The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported that 3,748 homes were sold in July, down from 4,602 in July 2009. The number of homes for sale without any pending offers has risen more than 10 percent, which may indicate that people who want to leave can’t. But it could also mean more people are trying to find cheaper housing.

Occupancy at extended-stay motels has also fallen sharply, bringing with it lowered room rates to entice business. For example, occupancy at the valley’s Emerald Suites declined from 75 percent in 2006 to 48 percent six months ago. Room rates were reduced about $20. At Siena Suites, occupancy went from about 85 percent to 65 percent.

Managers at U-Haul stores have noticed more last-minute move-outs. Instead of making reservations for a truck, a lot of residents are renting vans on a walk-in basis. Elmer Veatch, manager at a U-Haul store on Boulder Highway, said this may mean many people are being forced to move with little notice.

David Stevens, a 35-year-old Henderson resident, rented a 26-foot U-Haul truck this week to take his father’s furniture to California. He said his parent had gone to San Francisco because of medical issues but planned to return to Las Vegas to be with his grandchildren. Then his Las Vegas property lost half its value.

“He was going to move back out here, but the economy tanked and the house market crashed,” Stevens said.

So Stevens spent the day filling up the truck with bedding, sofas, tables and other furniture to make the 12-hour drive.

He added that many of his friends have left town for Arkansas, Utah and other states because they’ve lost jobs.

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  1. Vegas' struggles have nothing to do with having no master central planner - those don't work either.

    Vegas is suffering from a combination of 1) housing market crash 2) construction crash 3) general recession leaving tourists with fewer disposable dollars and 4) a state legislature that kicked the people while they were down with two historical tax increases within a single decade. Wealth that could be used to fuel economic growth and development and restore jobs in the private sector is being used to sustain government jobs - several of which have questionable value even before you consider how generously they are paid.

  2. nancyb,

    Your way to late. THe commercial real estate bubble already burst and anyone that can read knew it a year ago.

    Shopping centers have been selling for 25 cents on the dollar all this year. Commercial vacant land for even less.

    Easy to predict something that has already happened.

    Getting the valley back down to size is not a bad idea. It will grow again. This is not the first time this country or Nevada has experienced this. It always comes back bigger and better.

    Those that hate this valley need to find a place in life they enjoy. Those of us that have done well here and love it here will keep it going.

  3. These are all blue collar workers leaving. Which construction is dead, so its obvious.

  4. The "Dave Ramsey Show" (heard on about 500 stations nationally, I think Limbough is heard on 680?) tells people that "gambling is stupid...and he doesn't do it." He's always bragging about how rich he is.

    He also tells people not to eat at restaurants or spend money until their house is paid off. 76% of Vegas homeowners are upside-down, so that represents a large number of people. It will be along time, if ever, that those houses are paid off.

    Local Vegas station KXNT broadcasts 3 hours of Ramsey each day. Who would advertise on a station that tells it's listeners not to spend money???

  5. The trouble with the Sun is that it doesn't synthesize information from previous stories.

    Why no mention of the 13% drop in active voters in Clark County? This number is more dramatic and foreboding.

    The NV Secretary of State reports a 90,000+ drop of active voters in Clark County in the last 12 months.

    Tom Shermspun
    The Great Ruins of Las Vegas Tour (on Facebook)

  6. Say I own a new car dealership, would I want to advertise on a Ramsey station? He say don't buy new, but used. Usually he says to buy a "beater." If people don't borrow, they don't buy much.

    Ramsey and Bush are responsible for the bad economy.

    And he says: gambling is stupid, and frequently tells people not to dine out...neither of which are good for Vegas.

  7. No wonder people are leaving, look at some of the crazy thing GOVO Gibbons does. Nevada is suing the USA over the health care bill. Nevada is applying for subsidies under the health care bill. Therefore Nevada is participating in something, the State says is "unconstitutional." Therefore, Nevada should be sued as well.

  8. "According to another Sun article, 50,000 illegals have left the state. Just how did they get their hands on a U-Haul?" - richka321

    Does it matter? They're not here.

  9. Gibbons promised he would keep Nevada booming by keeping taxes low. He broke his promise.

  10. Local gaming is certainly a factor, but it depends on if the quality of the local casino matches what you would find at any Stations or Coast operation. You're basic slot mill isn't going to have a large impact, nor will card rooms. But a place such as Pachanga will.

  11. Any Vacant house swatted on for 60 days should become the property of the swatters.

  12. In the 60's they said Vegas is dying.
    In the 70's, they said Vegas is dying.
    In the 80's, they said Vegas is dying.

    Many of you are still saying Vegas is Dying.

    Come back and read these archives in 20 years and see how silly you look with your uninformed postings.

    Vegas will come back again as it always has. Bigger and Better each time.

    I have been here, I have see this all before. Just now it is easier for you naysayers to say it because you have the Internet. Used to be talk in the coffee shops.

    20% Unemployed? 80% of us are doing just fine that did not bury ourself in debt.