Who needs reality-TV talent shows? If Las Vegas comedy clubs want lots of laughs for their paying customers, they already know the next great act: the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The Cambridge, Mass., troupe assigns official start and end dates to recessions. On Monday, the academic economists declared that, by technical definition, the recession ended 15 months ago, in June 2009.
Now that's a knee slapper. Especially when, on the same day, the state reported that Nevada's record unemployment rate ticked upward again, to 14.4 percent, even though more than 10,000 people either stopped looking for work or packed up to seek opportunities elsewhere.
About 200,000 Nevadans -- 142,000 in this valley alone -- are out of work. Those who are working have seen their incomes stagnate or shrink, and, in all likelihood, their mortgages are underwater.
But the good news is the economy stopped contracting and resumed growing last summer. Really.
Somebody cue a rim shot. Whoever called economics the dismal science had it about right.
The misery inflicted by the 18-month recession will reverberate for years -- maybe longer if our elected officials keep seeing themselves as the solution instead of the problem.
Higher taxes and unrestrained deficit spending by government will put more people out of work. Open hostility to industry won't encourage investment in businesses. More meddling in the housing market won't help values recover.
The sacrifices made by Americans to survive these past few years have been painful, but for younger generations, the future is especially bleak.
A constantly rising minimum wage has helped kill the entry-level jobs that provided the least-skilled workers with their first opportunities. Workers younger than 25 are unemployed at twice the overall jobless rate. This inability to gain the most basic work experience will diminish their earning potential for the rest of their lives.
And they're supposed to believe the recession is over?
As more and more Americans are unable to provide for their families, the siren song of the welfare state will become more appealling. But if voters decide to let politicians take care of the masses, the joke will be on us.