Las Vegas Among the Highest Major Cities with Large Unemployment Rates

Unemployment is always an issue in the United States. However, over this past year, unemployment has become a major concern for tens of millions of people in the country. As the COVID-19 pandemic has been ongoing since March, many people are still out of work. Those who are on unemployed are not receiving enough to help with all that is needed, such as rent, food, and utilities. A new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Las Vegas has the highest unemployment rate when considering larger metropolitan areas.

Out of Work

The report was released this past week, showing that in November, the unemployment rate for Las Vegas was 11.5%. The city tops a list of 51 metro cities where the population is one million or more. Coming in second was New Orleans at 9.8% and Los Angeles at 9.6%.

In the past, Las Vegas has been a city where the economy was driven by casino gaming. It was considered a global destination and millions of people came to the city from across the US as well as from around the world to take part in casino games, restaurants, and entertainment.

With the onset of the pandemic, Las Vegas has almost become a ghost town. Thousands of people are without jobs due to the casinos downsizing operations. Hours of operation have been cut and some services have not come back at all, such as shows or other entertainment options.

Thousands of people have spent months trying to figure out what to do, relying on unemployment to get by. Casinos have tried to help by providing paychecks as long as possible as well as health benefits and food drives. But it is just simply not enough.

To make matters worse, most people live in or around Las Vegas. Because the city relies heavily on tourism, it is hard to find new employment. Plus, the fact that everyone is in the same boat, looking for a new job.

When the pandemic first began, Governor Steve Sisolak ordered the casinos to close to try and slow the virus down. When the Strip shut down along with other businesses throughout the state, it saw the unemployment rate move to 34%.

Right now, international and domestic air travel is basically nonexistent. Because of this, Las Vegas has to rely on travel from nearby states like Arizona and California. And while people are still visiting, it is not nearly the numbers needed for the job rate to get back to normal.

Huge Drop in Visitor Rate and Revenues

Both the visitor rate and revenue numbers have plummeted. Visitation is down so low that the numbers compare to way back in 1993. The cancellation of convention events and concerts are one reason why the numbers are so low, plus hotel towers shutting down.

In 2019, the state was able to earn $12 billion from the gambling industry as a whole. When comparing 2020 to that number, the state has seen a dip of 36%. The percentage should drop even further as the fiscal year comes to an end.

Analysts expect that the unemployment issue, as well as the need for revenues, will continue for many years as the city tries to recover from the effects of the coronavirus.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.