So, I have a very near and dear friend who has been residing in Las Vegas for the last five years. (Context: He happens to have Muscular Dystrophy and very wealthy parents who divorced a number of years back. His mother relocated to LV and bought him a house. For that reason, and a lot of others, the city works quite well for him. But that is neither here nor there, I suppose.) I go visit him probably four to six times a year and as such have developed somewhat of a sick intellectual fascination with the hows and whys of that place. Moreover, I've been watching, in slow motion, its decline over the last couple of years as the economy has crashed.
Of course, I'm sure all of you on this board are more than aware of this story: unless you've been living under a rock, it's been hard to miss, what with the interminable succession of stories about foreclosures and such. But in case you want a refresher, here is an interesting piece from Huffington Post:
Here are also some quick stats that someone so kindly posted in the comments of that article. I don't know the source, but they look legit based on what I've read in the last few months and heard from people there recently.
14.5% official unemployment rate
23% increase in Medicaid
25% business vacancy rate
35% increase in food stamps
54% shortfall in 2011 State Budget
55% loss in property values
75% vacancy in CityCenter condos
21-year oversupply of high-rise condos
50,000 cases of homelessness/yr
Harrah's 19.5B debt
Echelon and Fountainbleau multi-billion dollar projects undone
Stations Casinos bankrupt
What are your thoughts? Obviously the fate of Vegas is inextricably linked to that of the economy as a whole, and growing shortage of water may render all other debates moot. And there are of course those that just wish it would return to the desert from which it came. All of those are valid perspectives, but I'm looking for something more nuanced here.
So, does Vegas have another winning hand left, or has it simply gone bust?