Nearing the bottom?

It’s been a brutal two years in Southern Nevada. As the job losses, home foreclosures, bankruptcies and cutbacks mounted, it seemed like we might never hit bottom.

Fresh data from the tourism and housing sectors suggest the valley’s long economic plunge might be nearing an end.

September’s visitor volume grew 4.3 percent from the same month a year ago, the valley’s first such increase since May 2008. Convention attendance was up 12.2 percent for the month even though almost 100 fewer conventions were held here this September than in September, 2008.

Gaming revenues from September fell nearly 9 percent from a year ago, but casino collections topped $900 million for the first time since March. Strip revenues suffered their smallest monthly decline in 15 months, dropping only 3.58 percent. Double-digit declines had become the industry norm during this recession.

Meanwhile, single-family home sales and median prices were up last month. The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Monday that 3,535 homes were sold in October, up 5.3 percent from September and 30.1 percent from October 2008.

The median sale price climbed $1,100 to $139,100. That’s down 26.8 percent from last year, but it’s a definite change in course. And more than half of the valley’s single-family home inventory of 21,000 units are contingent or pending sale.

So when might we hit bottom? Maybe when the unemployment rate stops its relentless rise — it now stands at 13.9 percent locally and 10.2 percent nationally. And when we do hit bottom, it’s still going to hurt for a while. No one expects a rapid recovery.

But all the hard work and perseverance of this valley’s businesses are starting to pay off. The healing has begun.

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