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Study: Las Vegas is Least-Educated Metro Area

10 January 2011 by admin

obama_dunceSome people think that it’s foolish to take a trip to Las Vegas to take in their casinos and resort entertainment. They think it is a waste of money and a stupid decision to wager money on a game knowing that they might lose the money. Even President Obama, in one of his many statements that show he knows nothing about economics or about leadership, said that “you don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”

We can debate about whether or not it is wise to spend money on a hobby that could result in you winning money, but one thing now seems clear: The people visiting Las Vegas are probably the wisest people in the area.

A recent report released by sociologist Robert Lang shows that Las Vegas is the West’s least-educated metropolitan area. Lang, UNLV’s Director for Brookings Mountain West, has studied the economies of all of the metropolitan areas in the western United States and says that Las Vegas is the least educated.

dunceAccording to the report, only 19% of the people living in Las Vegas have obtained a bachelor’s degree. The report also put the graduation rate in the Nevada System of Higher Education at only 41.6%. All of that plays a factor in an economy that is struggling with debt and unemployment. The state of Nevada has an unemployment rate of 14.3%, which is the highest in the nation.

Ever since the casino industry transformed Las Vegas into the major tourism destination it is today, the economy has been driven by the Vegas Strip. For decades, Vegas was one of the few places left in America where it was common to get a decent job with a middle-class income without having an education beyond high school. Due to the nationwide recession that is still as bad as ever, despite what the White House’s economists tell you, tourism economies are struggling and none more so than Las Vegas. Perhaps the president telling people not to go there has been a factor.

las-vegas-tripsWith tourism down, the jobs in Las Vegas are down and there is not much out there for the uneducated workers. Many are calling for the city to diversify its economy, rather than having everything ride on the casinos, but without a larger number of educated people in the area, it will be hard for Vegas to attract more businesses. Lang said that “the thing that is really holding us back at this moment is the human capital training in the workplace.”

It’s kind of a Catch-22. Businesses aren’t willing to come to Las Vegas if there isn’t a larger educated populace, but the residents of Vegas aren’t going to spend money on getting an education if there aren’t any jobs. For long-term success, area residents must get an education, though in the short term many will be fighting for few high-paying jobs. In the short term, Vegas is relying on the rest of the country, hoping it can get its act together and restore economic confidence in the American people. The November elections were a good start, but much more needs to be done before Americans will be willing to spend their money on non-essentials. And when that does happen, let’s hope that whoever is president won’t tell them to stay home.

11 Responses to “Study: Las Vegas is Least-Educated Metro Area”

  1. James says:


    No apology is necessary. The comment section is intended to promote discussion, whether it is agreement or disagreement.

    As for your last comment, we at Suite always preach responsible gambling and I always say that you should never place a wager that you can’t afford to lose. None of us would ever advocate otherwise. It seems that we have differing opinions on Obama’s statements about Vegas, which is fine. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the various writers on Suite often include opinions in informative articles. If this is the first opinion that rubbed you the wrong way, then we must usually agree with you.

    In any case, we appreciate your opinion and please continue to feel free to share it.

  2. James says:


    Michael Jordan! I would never criticize him! Seriously, though, everything you said about Vegas is correct. It is a problem that is long in the making and has many causes. While I think Obama’s attitudes toward Vegas certainly haven’t helped the recovery, you are free to disagree. We appreciate your reading and always value your opinion.

  3. Meghan says:

    After taking some time, and coming back to read this again.
    I want to apologize for being so harsh – I think my nerves are a bit on edge with the shooting in Arizona…
    I’m sorry for taking it out on you. There just seems to be some much political vitriol that seems to be seeping into everything these days, its kinda set me on edge.

  4. Meghan says:

    What I find to be “bullshit” is that this article seemed like a sly way to promote your PERSONAL political opinions instead of the opinions of this site as a whole.

    I was under the impression that OCS was a reputable source in the iGaming industry. I would have hope that such a resource would also give the very sound advice to NOT GAMBLE WHILE PAYING OFF DEBT. That in no way translates to “don’t go to vegas.” or “don’t enjoy reputable online casinos if you can afford to do so.”
    So for you to make that LEAP in judgement shows me that you have a very clear political agenda.
    After reading you article, I don’t know what is more disturbing – That this site is a platform for political conservatives (which rubs me the wrong way given the involvement that that side of the party line has had in criminalizing the online industry here. – Or that a writer here would gamble with the reputation of this site in order to sneak in their own political agenda. – OR that you just what pages views and money and don’t actually care about the players in this industry.

  5. JC says:

    Okay here’s the list: Michael Jordan, Sara Palin and Chuck Noriss

    Good point 🙂 I’m not trying to advocate censorship. Criticize anyone all you want. Just make it relevant.

    Do you think that college kids should spend their money in Vegas?

    Obama told this to college kids, NOT to the general population.

    Las Vegas has been declining for many years, caused by the economic repercussions that were seeded during past administrations. Las Vegas itself is to blame also, going on a condominium building spree before the bubble burst. This has NOTHING to do with Obama. If you truly think so, please elaborate on why you think Obama’s economic policies have caused Vegas harm.

  6. James says:

    By the way, JC, you didn’t seem to have a problem when this author criticized Republican Rick Scott. Is he on the list that it is acceptable to criticize?

  7. James says:


    If you could provide a list of people this website is allowed to criticize, that would be helpful. As for the comment on Obama being unrelated, please see the comment directed at Meghan above. As for the photo, if you are a reader of Suite, you will notice that there are often attention-grabbing photos that relate either directly or tangentially to the content.

  8. James says:


    Since the article is “bullshit,” I would appreciate you being able to point out anything in it that is incorrect. That would be helpful.

    The article is about the challenges facing Las Vegas in their attempt to recover economically. Considering that Obama has several times told people not to go to Vegas and spend money, that seemed relevant enough to merit a mention.

    But your opinion is always appreciated.

  9. JC says:

    What is this website being run by right-wingers now? How does this have anything to do with President Obama, so much so to actually post a photo of him in a dunce cap? Seems like the author is making a feeble attempt to express displeasure with Obama in a totally unrelated context. It just irks me when people try to make everything political with immature jabs. Next time I review a restaurant that’s lacking in cleanliness, I’m going to start off with, “Even a dirty bum like President Obama says that cleanliness is next to Godliness”. and then I’m going to insert a hack photo of him with a beard, wearing a grungy camouflage jacket and holding a cardboard sign that says “I’m a dirty dunce. Please give me money”. Sheesh, you call this news.

  10. Meghan says:

    This article comes of as total Bullshit to me.
    What does Obama have to do with the graduation rate of the residents of Las Vegas?

    Are you just trying to draw traffic to your article by posting controversial BS?
    Or are you that tainted by you Right-Wing Angry that is bleeds into articles that you write “supposedly” trying inform the iGaming community?

    News flash. Most People in the iGaming community that are trying to get this industry regulated here state-side are either democrats or independents. You missed your mark, Buddy. Big Time.

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