Vegas Casinos Are Back in Action, But Employment Still Stagnant in April

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The gambling scene in Las Vegas is returning to normal and, after a long year of COVID-19 restrictions and temporarily shuttered facilities, casinos are back in action. However, despite the lifting of restrictions over the past couple of months, the unemployment rate in Sin City rose from March to April, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Paradoxically, as visitation and casino capacities increase, so has unemployment.

Vegas Near the Top in Unemployment

Las Vegas reported an unemployment rate of 9% in April, an increase from the 8.8% reported a month earlier. The only city to have a higher rate was Los Angeles, with its 9.9%, even though casinos in Vegas began welcoming more patrons between the two months. According to the BLS, the city with the lowest rate of unemployment in April was Birmingham, AL. Just 2.7% of its working population was unemployed that month. The BLS explained in an update that there were “Notable job gains in leisure and hospitality” in April, but that apparently didn’t apply to Vegas.

Despite the increase, things are still much better than they were a year ago. In April 2020, 33.3% of the Vegas workforce was jobless as Nevada’s gaming industry was turned upside down. Just ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic and orders for businesses across the state to temporarily close, Las Vegas had an unemployment rate of 3.6%. Across the US, the unemployment rate for April was 5.7%, a sharp improvement from the 14.4% recorded a year earlier.

More Traffic Hits Vegas

The Vegas hospitality industry is having difficulty finding talent to return to work, similar to what Mississippi has experienced.  It might have to find new ways to incentivize workers, especially as tourists are beginning to make their way back to the city. Casinos and resorts are now able to operate at 100% capacity and, since March, visitation has increased. April saw a 15.4% uptick over the previous month, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and, once the figures are available for May, the same trend is likely.

Compared to April 2020, the number of tourists arriving in Las Vegas this past April, 2.6 million, has increased by a massive 2,307%. However, the level is still 27.3% less than what was seen in April 2019. Resorts are still offering substantial discounts to boost hotel stays, with the average daily rate in April 16.1% less than it was two years ago. With the rebound of the Vegas hospitality market comes the return of some of the questionable fees that resorts have been charging for the past couple of years, but these aren’t stopping tourists from wanting to hit the streets and enjoy the post-lockdown Vegas lights.

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