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Valley needs a more diverse economy, experts say

KTVZ - NewsChannel 21

By Bryan Horwath

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    LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — While the Las Vegas economy has rebounded from the pandemic, there are still challenges ahead.

Las Vegas heavily relies on visitors, with close to 40 million visiting the valley last year, according to the LVCVA.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it does leave the Las Vegas Valley exposed when economic downturns cause people to travel less.

On Wednesday, the director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research said there’s a lot of work to be done and there are still gaps that could spell trouble in the future.

One of those gaps comes in the form of a workforce shortage.

During the center’s twice-yearly Outlook Forum, Andrew Woods said about 47,000 workers in Las Vegas never returned to the labor force after the onset of the pandemic.

For many businesses, hiring has become difficult, which also makes it hard for businesses to get off the ground or expand.

“Especially if you want to build a more resilient community, it’s your workers, in terms of attracting, recruiting and retaining, that are important,” Woods said. “We had a brain drain and we’re never going to get that back but it’s about looking to the future.”

A tight labor market will make it harder for Las Vegas to develop a more diverse economy — one with more manufacturing, tech and health care jobs — in the coming years.

Right now, the center noted that it would give the Las Vegas Valley a grade of D+ in the area of economic diversity.

Judging by what resources and policies are in place now, Woods said that grade would likely only get to a C- by 2040.

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