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LAS VEGAS-The Southern Nevada economy has been vacillating in recent months after climbing steeply through 2007 and falling steeply in 2008 and early 2009. Bob Potts, assistant director for the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at UNLV tells Globest.com the leveling off could be a sign its ready to follow in the footsteps of the national economy, which began picking up this summer. Then again, he says, it might not be.

The current state of the local economy is told by CBER’s Southern Nevada Index of Leading Economic Indicators, which is based on commercial and residential building permit data, taxable sales, passenger volume through McCarran International Airport, gross gaming revenue, visitor volume and conventions. CBER said Tuesday that the November Index, which is based on September data, rose 0.27% from October on growth in three of 10 categories, but remains down by 2.5% on a year-over-year basis. Gaming revenue, taxable sales and convention business were all up in September; all down were residential and commercial building permits, visitor volume and passenger traffic through the airport. The Index hasn’t gone in the same direction twice for several months, he says.

“For a while here we’ve been bouncing around, which signals to me that perhaps we’re leveling off a bit [from the downward trajectory],” he says. “Right now we’re lagging the national economy because our major driver is tourism and discretionary income and there’s been a freeze on that nationally and internationally ever since the recession kicked in 2007. We’re at a turning point. The next turn could be up or down but all hope is that as the national economy keeps picking up we will be picking up as well in the next four-to-six months.”

Gaming revenue was up 9.3% in September on a quarter-over-quarter basis while taxable sales grew 4.7% and convention attendance jumped 70%. On a year-over-year- basis, gaming revenue was off by 9.3%, taxable sales was off by 16.5% and convention attendance was up by 12.2%, according to the Index.

CBER also maintains three composite indexes, including the Clark County Tourism Index, the Clark County Business Activity Index, and the Clark County Construction Index. The Clark County Tourism Index rose 5.2% in September compared to August and is running 4.6% below the same year-earlier period, which is by far the smallest YOY spread this year. The Business Activity Index rose 1.84% in September but remains 8.6% behind the same year-earlier period. The Clark County Construction Index fell 3.38% during September after rising slightly in August and is 33.7% behind the same year-earlier period.

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