News Archives | Center for Business and Economic Research

UNLV’s Dr. Stephen Miller Talks: Is the economy good or bad in Nevada? A look at cost of living, affordable housing

The pandemic hit Nevada hard, but it eventually eased and the state came back to life economically, just not as fast as the rest of the country.

Though our unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country, it’s still around 5%, which economists have long said amounts to full employment.

What’s hurting is inflation combined with a very low rate of wage growth.

The state reported in December that Nevada’s average hourly rate ranked 44th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. And wage growth averaged just 1.3%, 49th in the country, and 16 states had wages with average wage growth above 5%.

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UNLV’s Dr. Stephen Miller Talks Las Vegas Super Bowl Impact, Chance of Recession, More

Last month, the Super Bowl was held here in Las Vegas. The event had a significant economic impact on the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Here to speak about that, as well as the state of the U.S. economy, is University of Nevada, Las Vegas economics professor Stephen Miller. He is the Director of Research for the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV’s Lee Business School.

Dr. Miller was joined by CYInterview sponsor Rob Gill, for what was a compelling discussion.

Speaking about the Super Bowl’s impact on Las Vegas, Professor Miller shared this:

“It ranges from about $400 million to $1.1, $1.3 billion dollars in economic impact. So, one thing to keep in mind about the Super Bowl is that it was already a big event in Las Vegas. Even though the game wasn’t here, there are lots of people that came to watch the game and bet on the game and so on and so forth. So, it was like adding icing on top of the cake that was already there.”

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The wrong jobs: Why Nevada’s worst-in-US unemployment hasn’t changed

“Structural unemployment” is a big part of the answer, according to professor Stephen Miller, director of research for UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER). Miller said Thursday that the job market has changed, but people haven’t caught up to it yet. There’s a mismatch between the jobs that are available and the people looking for work.

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Playing the long game: Colossal sporting events will push Las Vegas forward

“When you have 40 million visitors, there’s always externalities–environmental, transportation, public safety, health,” says economist Andrew Woods, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “That is just the nature of [growth]. … We do need to have a conversation about the transportation we have, and are we giving enough choice and options so that we can host bigger and bigger events? We [also] have to make sure our workers can efficiently get to and from work … and be able to take our kids to school at the same time.”

It’s a conversation worth having, if we want this town to continue working for residents and visitors just as well as it does for major sporting events. But it’s a conversation more relevant to Formula 1 than the Super Bowl, Woods adds.

“With F1, it was a huge giant construction of a track, and they had never done something like that before on their own. And it was certainly a learning experience for all of us,” he says.

Although there are valid frustrations at the growing pains that come with accommodating bigger and bigger events, Woods says there’s no question that events like Formula 1 and the Super Bowl benefit the local economy.

“One in four jobs in Southern Nevada are tied to leisure and hospitality. One in $3 that is generated in Southern Nevada are tied to leisure and hospitality … About half of the state budget is dependent on some sort of tourism-related tax,” Woods explains. “We need these visitors to come and spend their money because that helps pay for public education and transportation, [etcetera].”

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Strong economic growth but high unemployment: a look at Nevada’s economy

In tourism-dependent Nevada, the unemployment rate rocketed even higher, topping out at 30.6% that month. The Las Vegas metro area, which was the hardest hit in the entire nation, saw its jobless rate soar to 34%.

“If you look at all the economic indicators, like gaming revenue and visitor volume and hotel occupancy rates, they dropped off a cliff,” said Stephen M. Miller, a professor of economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Miller, who also serves at the director of research for the Lee Business School’s Center for Business and Economic Research, added, “Because the casinos were closed, people were out of work, and if they had that extra [stimulus and unemployment] money coming in, they were not spending it and were saving it.”

He added: “They didn’t take the first job that came along, but it took a little extra time to search for a job or looking to embark on a new career ladder.”

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Without diversification, Las Vegas economy is vulnerable

At UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), we did not forecast nor do we currently forecast an impending recession. But we are not ones to dish out humble pie to our colleagues for simply getting it wrong. Forecasting the future is tricky business, where the forecaster’s motto is “often wrong, never in doubt.”

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More movies in Las Vegas? Panelists make pitch for tax credits

Film industry experts called for an expansion of the state’s film tax credit program during a panel Wednesday evening.

The panelists, including Nevada Film Office Director Kim Spurgeon, filmmaker Jay Torres and Vision Vegas CEO Jason Soto, said an expansion of the state’s film tax credits is important to the future of Southern Nevada’s burgeoning film industry.

And the lack of opportunity in Las Vegas means Southern Nevada students interested in the film industry often have to move elsewhere, meaning the state is losing its homegrown workforce, UNLV Associate Dean Warren Cobb said.

The event, which was hosted at District North on South Third Street, was part of an ongoing series of events hosted by UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

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Clark County sales tax revenue grew in November. Was that from Formula One?

A preliminary economic impact report released on Jan. 24 found that visitors during Formula One week spent $561 million.

Total taxable sales for the county have grown since the pandemic faster than the pace of inflation, economists said. Tax receipts in November 2023 were 68 percent higher than November 2016 — the year in which visitor volume peaked for the region at nearly 43 million visitors. Meanwhile, inflation rose about 17 percent in that same period, Andrew Woods, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, said.

That suggests fewer visitors contributed to the higher sales tax rates, all while the region’s population grew. It’s a connection that can also be seen in the growing average daily room rates shown in monthly visitation reports, despite a stagnating visitor volume.

“This is in line with (the trend that) consumers are less sensitive to prices than they have in the past,” Woods said. “That’s been a pretty steady trend and partly why inflation has been as sticky as it’s been. As much as we don’t want to pay higher prices, we’re paying higher prices and we’re still buying things.”

Aguero and Woods said that higher spending trends typically suggest a pullback in consumer spending is coming. And though the taxable sales are higher for the county overall, Woods and Aguero both noted that individual businesses may not have could have seen record sales levels of their own.

“Just because people are paying more in hotel rooms, it may not spill over into the entire valley,” Woods said.

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