Seven good things to remember: VI

Las Vegas has been dealt more than its share of bad cards in this recession. So much so that it's easy to lose sight of the good.

    Las Vegas (and Nevada by extension) faced more pain in the real estate market collapse of 2008 -- thank you Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. Barney Frank and an out-of-control mortgage industry. And we're still in for increased unemployment as casino companies, one-by-one, restructure to rid themselves of debt that was taken on at just the wrong time and now allows for no downturn in their business models.

    However, the casino industry will survive and restructure. We're already seeing that happen. It will result in better, more competitive gaming companies. Employment will firm up and that will ripple through the rest of the economy.

    In the meanwhile, I thought I'd take time this week to catalog seven underlying good things in the Las Vegas economy we ought to remember.

    Here's No. 1-6. Stay tuned for No. 7.

    Good News No. 1: Even in the teeth of this recession, Las Vegas still provides employment to nearly 914,000 people. Education and Health Services actually saw an increase in employment from January 2008 to January 2009, as did government services.

    Good News No. 2: It is more affordable to visit Las Vegas than other tourist destinations, with average daily room rates of $104.89 in January 2009. In comparison, San Francisco’s average room rate in for 2008 was $192.45.

    Good news No. 3:  As of January 2009, Las Vegas’ hotel room inventory was 140,729, and this number is expected to increase by 10.5% to 155,562 by the end of 2009. In comparison, Orlando, Florida has 111,700 hotel rooms and San Francisco a little over 33,300.

    Good News No. 4: Air travel is down and may continue for the time being. But there are still more than 3 million air passengers each month. In January 2009, the total air passenger count was 3,016,067.

    Good News No. 5: Average daily auto traffic on the I-15 at the California-Nevada border has actually increased by 2.6% to 33,935 in January 2009, compared to 33,064 in January of 2008.

    Good News No. 6:  In January 2009, existing home sales increased 70.4% compared to January 2008.