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National Economy Improving, Nevada Still in Rough Shape | Business

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National Economy Improving, Nevada Still in Rough Shape

LAS VEGAS -- Local economists and business leaders debated Tuesday whether the recession has hit bottom yet.

A new report released at the UNLV Economic Outlook Conference showed some surprises, mainly corporate profits spiking to pre-recession levels and that the health services sector is booming but it's not translating into job growth.

UNLV's Center for Business and Economic Research met with Nevada business leaders and their forecast for jobs can still be summed up as "grim" for southern Nevada.

Stimulus money was a topic of conversation at the conference. Nevada only got a small percentage of stimulus money compared to other states, but experts say it helped.

In the past year, the number of construction workers at Desert Wind Homes went from 30 employees to seven. They say federal home buyer tax credits helped keep their business from going under.

Now, Desert Wind Homes President Michael Galatio has some good news. "I'd like to look into hiring some more staff this year because we're looking into moving into some new areas such as mold remediation and taking on some areas we don't normally do. That would open us up to hiring more people," he said.

Even though Nevada hasn't seen many stimulus-funded construction projects, money given to other states still has an impact here.

"That stimulus money has kept somebody else's job, they're more likely to come here to visit," said Dr. Mary Riddel, UNLV. "I'm a little bit concerned that when the stimulus stops, what we're going to have is an economy that isn't ready to stand on its own two legs yet."

Some business owners say one area where federal stimulus money didn't seem to work was when it was given to big banks.

"They ended up using it not to loan money. What we actually saw was consumers getting squeezed for it, through higher credit card rates and higher bank fees. It was very frustrating for business owners to go and try to get money," said Michael Lathigee, Alliance investor.

A few small businesses may be looking to hire soon. But unless the big businesses do the same thing, job growth in southern Nevada may have to wait longer. UNLV economic team pointed out that corporate profits nationwide recently surged and productivity is up but large corporations are playing it conservative when it comes to hiring.


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