he unemployment rate in Las Vegas is the highest in the US among big metropolitan areas, according to a report released Tuesday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The report showed an estimated 11.5% of Las Vegas workers were out of jobs in November. That's the highest rate among 51 metro cities with at least 1 million people, as reported by Reno Gazette-Journal. New Orleans had the second-highest unemployment rate at 9.8%, followed by Los Angeles (9.6%) and New York (9.5%). Birmingham, Alabama, had the lowest at 3.8%.
Without international travel, the COVID-19 pandemic has essentially transformed Las Vegas from a global destination to a regional gambling hub dependent on drive-in business, mostly from California and Arizona. Casinos have been downsized, and operating hours significantly reduced.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all casinos to close in April to help halt the spread of the novel coronvirus. With the closure of The Strip and other Nevada businesses, Las Vegas’ jobless rate jumped to 34%.
Visitation is now down to levels the state hasn't seen since 1993. With concerts and conventions cancelled and hotel towers closed, Nevada will remain in financial trouble with thousands of jobless residents stuck in a jammed unemployment system until COVID-19 restrictions are rolled back and travelers regain their confidence.
In 2019, Nevada generated $12 billion in gambling revenue. It was the first time in 12 years that the state reached that mark, and only the third time ever. But gaming revenue is now down 36% for the fiscal year.