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Conor Sen

Las Vegas's Economy Is on the Brink of a Boom

That housing-bust hangover couldn't last forever.
Photographer: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

What U.S. city will boom in 2018? If you're placing bets, you'd look for a place still suffering a hangover from the housing bust, with subdued economic activity and a lack of excess for a decade. You'd want to find an economy where demand is starting to exceed supply in a significant way, with price signals and economic activity responding. And with the U.S. economy as a whole starting to feel a bit frothy, you'd try to identify a place that benefits from American exuberance. In other words, you'd look for Las Vegas.

Perhaps no place in America was hit harder by the financial crisis than Las Vegas. Unemployment peaked in late 2010 at 14 percent. Home prices, as measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, fell by an astonishing 62 percent from their 2006 peak. Single-family building permits fell by over 90 percent. Even today, home prices remain 30 percent below their peak, and single-family building permits are still barely half of what they were 20 years ago.