Wall Street drops again! Is Las Vegas ready? How can students prepare?

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Wall Street sign in New York City, New York. (Photo courtesy of Chenyu Guan/Unsplash)

The National Bureaus of Economic Research defines recessions as a decline in economic activity spread across the economy and lasting more than a few months, which implies there’s more to a recession than performance on Wall Street.

As stocks continue to fall on Wall Street to levels seen in 2020, fears of a coming recession continue to mount. The U.S stock market has lost more than 20% of its value this year alone amidst historically high inflation rates. But what does this mean for the Las Vegas Community and UNLV students, specifically?

Director Stephen Miller, Ph.D. at UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research said that “The stock market had predicted nine of the last five recessions. That means sometimes it’s right, and sometimes it’s not, so it can’t always be a good predictor.”  

This begs the question of whether Las Vegas is truly experiencing a recession, the impacts of high inflation and what this means for students at UNLV.

College tuition is victim to long periods of recession and high inflation, where colleges may impose increases in the costs per credit hour. In a recession, Miller agrees tuition could go up, but in response to student concerns about the rising cost of higher education, UNLV has intentionally locked tuition rates for its students over the next three years. 

“This year the increase was 2.8% in tuition, next year it’s going to be 2.5%, then 1.9% the year after that,” Miller said. 

Textbooks and supplies seem to be safe as well, said Mondana Egdhami, who has witnessed the impact of recessions and inflation at the UNLV BookStore as general manager for over 17 years. 

“We constantly work toward saving the students’ costs on course materials…We negotiate the price of the textbook with the publisher, which is normally about 20% lower than national pricing,” Egdhami said.

Uncertainties surrounding rent prices and employment may be of concern for students living off campus and upcoming graduates as they enter the workforce. The recent global pandemic and historic inflation have greatly affected the U.S housing market, although last month, “Rentals [prices] went down 8% in Las Vegas,” Miller said.

It is also worth noting that in Nevada, food such as grocery items are exempt from sales and use tax. Furthermore, Nevada is one of nine states to have no income taxes, an advantage for UNLV students and Las Vegas locals during periods of high inflation.

Miller said, “High inflation is typically associated with low unemployment, and that’s what we have right now.” As unemployment rates continue to steady across Clark County, alumni and upcoming graduates are likely to enter a job market where there are more opportunities than applicants which is unusual in a recession.

In fact, for those searching for employment on campus, Egdhami has been unable to hire enough booksellers for the Fall 2022 semester at the UNLV BookStore. Egdhami also spoke to the challenges various departments on campus experience in hiring and retaining students specifically, suggesting students are easily able to find employment off campus.

Though the Class of 2023 is likely to graduate into a down economy, they may be better off than 2020 graduates where jobs simply weren’t available due to the pandemic.

Fortunately, “In terms of students, if you’re going out in the job market, right now is not a bad time.” Miller states, “There are more jobs available than there are people looking for jobs,” where last month there were two jobs for every person looking.

Amid speculation and signs of recession, the Las Vegas economy appears to remain strong despite shifts on Wall Street. A robust job market and active tourism continue to supplement our local economy, but will it be enough? Only time will tell. 

In the interim, Egdhami and Miller agree, the best things students can do to prepare for a possible recession or high inflation are to practice sound personal finance, including budgeting and avoiding unnecessary debt.

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