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LAS VEGAS-Few cities in the US were hit as hard by the terrorist attacks as this gambling capital. In addition, the effects of the slowing national economy also became more apparent in this city during the third quarter, shows a report by the Las Vegas office of Grubb & Ellis.

Employment growth between August 2000 and August 2001 was 3.5% , down from 4.9% for the year ending June 2001 and 5.6% for the year ending in January 2001, shows the report.

”The events of Sept. 11 added even greater uncertainty to the short-term viability of the local economy,” the Grubb & Ellis report notes.

The report goes on to say that concerns over the safety of commercial air travel ”caused a direct and swift impact on airline-dependent Las Vegas.”

Soon after Sept. 11, tourist travel and hotel occupancy rate dropped by almost half. There were about 13,000 layoffs along the Strip alone, Grubb & Ellis reports.

That’s the bad news.

More encouraging is how quickly the city is bouncing back.

Grubb & Ellis quotes the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority as saying hotels have enjoyed a steady increase in occupancies, especially on weekends.

Hotels posted an average occupancy rate of 95% of Oct. 12 to 13, just slightly below the historical rate of 97.9%. And about 25% of the laid-off casino employees have been rehired for part-time work to accommodate higher weekend occupancies.

Air travel is on the rise as well. The number of daily airline seats coming into McCarran International Airport stood at 58,303, or 90% of the previous capacity, as of Oct. 14.

”Although sort-term uncertainties remain, the long-term prospects for Las Vegas continue to be very optimistic,” Grubb & Ellis says.

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