Las Vegas COVID-19 Impact Report Claims $34B Economic Destruction

Posted on: July 31, 2021, 12:04h. 

Last updated on: July 30, 2021, 03:38h.

The Las Vegas COVID-19 impact on Southern Nevada’s economy was bad. That comes as no surprise. But numbers recently compiled put into layman’s terms just how devastating the health crisis has been on the nation’s casino capital.

Las Vegas COVID-19 Impact Report Says Virus Caused $34B Economic Destruction
A dark Bellagio is seen during Nevada’s ordered closures in March of 2020. The COVID-19 virus took a previously unimaginable toll on Southern Nevada and the Las Vegas economy. (Image: KSNV)

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) contracted its go-to analytical firm — Applied Analysis — to review the coronavirus’ toll on the region. Applied Analysis principal Jeremy Aguero said the findings were unparalleled. 

The COVID-19 pandemic left an indelible imprint on the Southern Nevada tourism industry and the broader regional economy,” Aguero said in the report’s executive summary. “Compared to recent recessions, the COVID-19 recession’s magnitude was unprecedented in its depth and speed.”

The Applied Analysis team concluded that COVID-19 cost Las Vegas approximately $34 billion in total economic impact. An economic impact analysis examines the effect an event such as COVID-19 has on the economy. 

In 2019, Southern Nevada experienced a total economic impact of nearly $63.7 billion. That includes $36.9 billion in lost direct visitor spending, $11.4 billion in indirect activity from suppliers and vendors, and $15.4 billion in employee wages.  

With Las Vegas’ tourism industry closed or operating at reduced levels throughout much of 2020, Southern Nevada’s total economic impact fell to $29.6 billion. Visitor spend contracted to $17.6 billion, third-party activity crumbled to $4.9 billion, and employee wages were a little more than $7 billion. 

Casino Workforces Shattered

The tourism and gaming industries are the lifelines of Southern Nevada’s economy. And with casinos and resorts closed, and then largely barren of guests in their immediate reopenings, employers had little choice but to tell their staffers they’re not needed.

The Southern Nevada tourism industry directly employed an estimated 242,500 workers in 2019, and when the ripple effects of visitor spending were included, the tourism industry supported 376,800 jobs,” Aguero detailed. “In 2020, direct tourism-related employment fell 32.5 percent to 163,800, and total employment with indirect and induced effects fell by 125,600 to 251,200 jobs, a 33.3 percent decline.”

With more than 125,000 people not on the job, employees in the gaming industry missed out on an estimated $3.3 billion in wages. That comes out to around $26,400 per laid-off worker. 

Pandemic Not Over

Though travel is resuming in the US and several gaming states are reporting record casino revenue, the recent uptick in new COVID-19 cases in Nevada has paused optimism. 

“While the economic losses in 2020 were material, it is worth noting that many of the economic conditions and shortfalls have persisted into early 2021,” the Applied Analysis study explained. 

In most Nevada counties, mandatory face masks for all people inside public spaces went into effect today, July 30. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) made the decision based on recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The mask mandate applies to counties experiencing substantial or high transmission rates.  Twelve counties in the state, including Clark County, home to Las Vegas, must abide by the governor’s order.