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Analyst peppers Las Vegas Perspective talk with statistics

Las Vegas statistics guru Jeremy Aguero stood in front of a packed room at the Four Seasons, giving the local business community their medicine.

With the good came the bad at the Las Vegas Perspective event held Thursday morning to celebrate the 33rd annual publication of the community profile. Of note this year is that Clark County’s population grew 1.7 percent in 2012 to more than 2 million people living in the area, making it the seventh-fastest in the nation in terms of growth. The most newcomers — 31.9 percent — hail from California.

But while population is increasing, the graduation rate still is faltering.

The Clark County School District still has the lowest graduation rate in the United States at 68.1 percent, and Aguero said this statistic should garner the highest level of concern moving forward.

“We need more angry parents,” he noted.

Another statistic Aguero paid close attention to at the event was that 37.2 percent of Hispanic adults in Southern Nevada don’t have a high school diploma.

“We are going to pay a price for this if we’re not careful,” he cautioned.

The housing market, too, drew his attention.

“Our housing market is going to be a problem one way or the other,” Aguero said.

The Applied Analysis analyst cited a housing shortage and people living in homes they’re not paying for as the primary reasons for his assessment. In 2012, 52,553 homes were sold at a median price of $130,000, a price that has substantial room to grow, Aguero said.

Last year 20.5 percent of Clark County households made between $50,000 and $74,999. Only 2.6 percent of households made more than $200,000.

In terms of the gaming industry and tourism, it’s a mixed bag.

Keith Smith, Boyd Gaming president and CEO, told the crowd of about 500 that his industry is clearly in recovery mode, although it’s not yet back to the highs of 2006.

He brought up the recent Echelon sale and how monetizing the stalled project was the right move for Boyd .

“No one could have predicted the depths of this recession,” Smith said.

And while Las Vegas visitation numbers are higher than ever (2012 saw 39.7 million visitors to the city), gaming revenues have remained below pre-recesssion levels. In 2012, gross gaming revenues were $9.4 billion in Clark County, compared to 2006’s total of $10.6 billion.

The combined revenues of the big four gaming tech companies — Bally Technologies, IGT, WMS and Aristocrat — still are $500 million less than 2008 levels at $4.4 billion for fiscal year 2012.

New projects, though, including Linq, SLS and the Las Vegas Convention Center renovation, will add to the recovery momentum, Smith said.

In 2012, 28 new companies relocated to Southern Nevada, creating 1,379 jobs. Many local businesses attended the event, including iBlowdry, a blowdry salon, and Batteries In a Flash, a local battery store and website.

“This helps me see the direction of my business and where my shortcomings are going to arise,” said Avel Ureno, owner of Batteries In a Flash.

As for the future, Ramesh Srinivasan, president and CEO of Bally Technologies, said Las Vegas needs to be a place that attracts more mathematicians and engineers if it wants to thrive and keep up. Gaming, for instance, is no longer confined to the casino floor. Social gaming on Facebook is on track to be a $7 billion industry and only three out of 100 people playing actually spend money while doing so.

Can you say room to grow?

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.

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