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October 24, 2014

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Numbers reveal mixed picture on Las Vegas economy

Official says ‘the worst of the economy is behind us’

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Justin M. Bowen

Principal analyst Jeremy Aguero, with Applied Analysis, speaks during the 31st annual Las Vegas Perspective on Thursday, March 31, 2011, at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Perspective

Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones speaks during the 31st annual Las Vegas Perspective on Thursday, March 31, 2011, at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Three of every five Southern Nevadans are “very concerned” about holding onto a job or finding work while another 29 percent are “somewhat concerned” about one or the other, according to numbers released today by Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis.

Despite those figures, the company’s principal partner, Jeremy Aguero, told an audience of 450 business, political and community leaders gathered for the company’s annual Las Vegas Perspective informational forum that there is a “general belief that the worst of the economy is behind us.”

Aguero pointed to a mix of measurements that he said demonstrate upward trends since the depth of the recession in 2008 and 2009:

• Clark County’s population grew to a record 2.03 million in 2010.

• Ninety percent of those surveyed said their quality of life in Southern Nevada is “good” or “very good.”

• Seventy-nine percent say it is a “good time” to buy a house in Southern Nevada.

Aguero used numbers from an array of sources, including state and local government agencies. The measurement of Nevadans’ attitudes was conducted in January and February via telephone calls to the heads of 500 households in the region. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.

Click to enlarge photo

UNLV President Neal Smatresk speaks during the 31st annual Las Vegas Perspective on Thursday, March 31, 2011, at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas.

“We’re not suggesting we’re out of the woods, but for the first time all the arrows are up,” he said. “Our nation’s economy is doing better overall.”

Despite Aguero’s optimism, a broad range of measurements continued recent downward trends between 2009 and 2010. They included building permits for housing, sales of existing homes, total homes sales, the median prices for new and existing homes, commercial building permit values, taxable retail sales and passenger volume at McCarran International Airport.

Aguero also noted that record levels of consumer debt and the tens of thousands of homes in some state of foreclosure could contribute to a second recessionary trough both nationally and regionally.

“The one (trend) that scares me more than any other is U.S. government debt,” he told the audience gathered at The Four Seasons Hotel.

Forty-one percent of those surveyed by phone said they expect the Southern Nevada economy will “stay the same” during the next 12 months. Twenty-four percent said they expect it will decline, while 35 percent said it will expand. Seventy-two percent said they expect the Southern Nevada economy will expand during the next five year.

Meantime, 79 percent said this a good time to buy a house within the region. Just 26 percent expect home prices to jump during the next 12 months.

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  1. Dave Berns,

    I would like to see an investigation into any business that Applied Analysis does or has done with either the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce or the Nevada Policy Research Institute within the last 5 to 10 years.

    Mr. Aguero has presented his company as independent of any political or lobbying affiliation, and the local media has accepted him at his word for years. However, given the seriousness and respect with which the local media automatically treats his opinion and research, I think its only reasonable that someone take a long look at the operations of his company to see if it is indeed independent.

    Decsion makers in Carson City are basing their actions, in part, on what Mr. Aguero says. That alone is justification for someone to investigate the background and dealings of his company.

  2. Why don't we get an outside firm with no axe to grind to rank the Nevada situation. AA or NPRI are getting their money from somewhere ...good point Hilton

    Today the FOX Institute released statistics on the State of the Hen House.

  3. At the same time that Applied Analysis is cautiously optimistic, Forbes magazine ran an article, "Cities where the economy could get worse". They did not include Las Vegas, but because Las Vegas and Nevada lead the country in foreclosures, they concluded "Although it didn't make our list, Vegas merits watching as a city where the economy could get worse".

  4. The readers have pegged Mr. Aguero correctly. As a pop economist he is extremely engaging. After listing a mountain of fundamental negatives, he finds some obscure statistic which allows him to say exactly what the politicians want to be able to repeat to their constituents: "Yeh, but things look like they're going to get better." This final touch enables his firm to be contracted year after year to provide basic forecasting to the State, Clark County, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, among others--even though all have been led, during the past 3 years, into huge deficits, special sessions, layoffs, emergency cutting of services, deviation from their basic missions, etc.

    After hearing his pitch in late 2008 to the County Commission, I told the Commission in public comment to ignore his forecast as "wildly optimistic" and follow their gut feelings. Of course, I was dismissed as some kind of crank and the Commissioners decided to continue their now obsolete budgeting procedures for fiscal 2009-10 as endorsed "cautiously" by Mr. Aguero. As I remember, by the summer of 2009, the County was close to $130,000,000 over budget and had to engage in frantic cutting--another tactic the politicians love, because they have an immediate justification ("no money") for whatever they decide.

    One of the members of Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission pointed out at its Sept 8, 2010 hearing here in Las Vegas, that financial consultants bore a huge share of the responsibility for the crisis. That Commission member asked Mr. Aguero if his was providing "happy talk" to his public clients. Naturally Mr. A denied guilt.

    However, due to Mr. Aguero's overly optimistic forecasts, taxpayers are getting railroaded and our public institutions are being run haphazardly--with no regard for rational operational goals--in their frantic, last-minute cost cutting. But, because Mr. Aguero makes them feel so good every time he talks, he's a shoe-in for next year's contracts. The guy is brilliant--and very dangerous to the economic health of the state and region. Ed Uehling