Is Las Vegas The Coolest Or Most Stressed City In The Country?

Within the space of a couple weeks, Forbes magazine published the results of a nationwide poll showing Las Vegas tying with New York City as the coolest city in the U.S. Hot on the heels of that was Forbes noting that Las Vegas is the “most stressed” city in the county. How could this be? Simple:

The local problems with unemployment and the housing market have nothing to do with your visitor experience. Tens of thousands of people bought homes in new neighborhoods here a few short years ago, paying well over what the traditional value of local homes has been. Many/most of them were also new to town and assumed that the boom-time wages helping them pay that inflated home price were the norm. Now they are underwater on the house, possibly out-of-work (or one spouse is unemployed), or they are underemployed and guess what: That is stressful. But that has nothing to do with your visitor experience.

A recent Review-Journal/KLAS TV poll noted that 71% of locals feel that the economy will stay the same or get worse over the next year. I agree. Here’s why: 34% of locals would leave if the could but can’t (no pending job elsewhere, too far underwater on home). This is simply going to prolong the pain. Here’s why:

The construction jobs that fueled this economy are simply not coming back. Not for many, many years. Construction workers needed everything from a haircut to car insurance to food… and that money trickled through the entire local economy. Which means that those jobs ALSO are GONE. So… you have 34% of the population holding on for dear life. Many of whom will be stressed to the point that they’ll still eventually throw in the towel. Their unemployment will run out, they will realize that the house payments are simply unmanageable, and they’ll pack up and drive away.

So then what? In 3-5 years, we’ll see the revitalization of the local population. Cheap housing (as a result of the continuing housing bust), lack of state income taxes, and a general cheap cost of living will start to attract entrepreneurs. In fact, I know first-hand that this is already happening. Add to that the fact that we have not lost our international airport (still one of the busiest in the country) nor the amazing entertainment and dining options. If you can deal with our 3 hot months of summer (which many would suggest are much preferable to somewhere with three months of serious winter weather), you have it made.

With entrepreneurs come great ideas. Where you have great ideas, amazing things happen.

But for the foreseeable future, you’ll still have very high unemployment, plenty of foreclosures, and other stressful conditions for a pretty significant portion of the population. This will not cease until natural selection has taken its toll and “thinned out the herd” of Las Vegas residents.

In addition, the people moving to town now didn’t live the boom. They didn’t think it was normal for money to be falling into their lap if they so much as got out of bed in the morning. They are moving here to couple risk taking, hard work and a business friendly environment and will be a lot less likely to assume that a magical jackpot (home appreciation) is going improve their lives.

As I noted, I know because I’m already meeting some of these people. And if they are any indication of what is to come, the city will bounce back nicely and continue to be a very enjoyable place to work, live, and do business.

Reference material:

  • Poll: Poor economy adds to angst – Few expect Nevada to rebound soon
  • Poll: Leaving Las Vegas in the cards for some
  • >Many agree Las Vegas ranks as most stressful city

Your Turn: Think I’m on the money? Is there something I missed? Am I out-to-lunch and you think that Las Vegas is on a slide that it will never recover from? All comments are welcome and appreciated below.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

3 thoughts on “Is Las Vegas The Coolest Or Most Stressed City In The Country?”

  1. My husband and I visit LV a couple times a year from our home in Anchorage, Alaska. The bad economy has indirectly affected our tourism experiences because of the negative attitude some people who are employed by the gaming industry show to visitors. They are soured by their home investment, a spouse out of work, financial struggles, etc. and sometimes this shows in their attitude when at work. It’s harder for some to put on a happy face in this adverse time.

  2. Hi Ted- I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head this time. I’ve watched home prices inflate to ridiculous heights over the years and knew it couldn’t possibly last. But with so many foreclosures, and so many banks unwilling to negotiate, I have to wonder what will happen to all these homes. Surely lack of upkeep is going to cause them to lose value.

    I’m also a little disappointed that prices of consumer goods haven’t dropped much as a result of unemployment. I don’t know how young families manage these days, and I am glad my children are grown and on their own.

    I think as long as inflation slows down, and gives us all a chance to regroup a little bit, the majority of Las Vegas residents will be okay.

  3. My father lived throught the Great depression after 1929, and when he was alive he would say, “son, people will always pay anything to be entertained”. My own Grandmother worked as a seamstress for .15 cents per hour, but she still saved a dime out of that to go to the movies once a week. Say what you like but there is only ONE Las Vegas. Our biggest threat is government over regulation and increased taxation. When the Goodfellas ran this town we had no problems. Give the people more of their own money backk and they will come.

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