Published:  12:58 AM, 12 September 2018

Las Vegas booming again, bracing for slump

Las Vegas booming again, bracing for slump The old Las Vegas Strip is seen in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. -Reuters

Diane Han is trying to leave the Las Vegas of her childhood behind. Her mother is a blackjack dealer at Caesar's Palace, one of the mega-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, while her father works in housekeeping at another. Han, 25, grew up in Las Vegas, but went to college in the Bay Area for college and spent a year there working as a biochemist. 

Yet she returned to enroll as a member of the first class at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine. The school opened last year to address a chronic shortage of doctors in Southern Nevada and broaden the city's economic base.

Few cities were hit as hard as Las Vegas by the 2008 financial crisis and recession, which eroded consumer spending on the sort of fast thrills the city had to offer and left it with the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. Home prices plummeted 62 percent from their peak in 2006 to their bottom in 2012, according to data from ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate tracking firm.

Now Han is part of a group of medical students whose decision to stay and practice in Las Vegas after graduation may give the city hope that it can reduce its reliance on casinos. "We are in an early stage of building what could be a start-up culture here," Han said. "We're trying to make it a real city, not just a transient one."

Nevada as a whole lost more jobs in relation to its workforce than any other state, with more than 70 percent of those losses in the Las Vegas region. There, unemployment rate hit 14.2 percent at the depth of the recession, well above the national peak of 10 percent and nearly triple where it was before the downturn began in 2007.

---Reuters, Las Vegas

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