Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: The government will release new unemployment numbers later this week, and lately that has been cause for people in DC to hold their breath; kind of like the president must do every day when he sees my letter! Ha!
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to you today from the great state of Nevada. We are here on our latest Building Up America trip, and I must say it has already been an eye-opener.
Over the past couple of months as I have looked at unemployment reports, and foreclosure rates, and all those other indicators, I’ve noted many times that the Silver State is pretty much the gold standard for terrible times right now. Unemployment here has been pushing up toward 15 percent. The gambling business is down; tourism is in the tank; construction is staggering. But to be here on the ground and see the results firsthand is truly disturbing.
Now, don’t get me wrong: This is still a great vacation destination for people who are looking for all the bright lights and excitement that Las Vegas has always meant. The Strip is still glittering and gaudy, and you can still find big shows and big crowds flocking to see them any night of the week. But the crowds just aren’t as big as they were. And they seem to be sitting on their wallets more.
So the less money the tourists spend, the less the locals have. The less the locals spend, the less jobs business owners can support. And on and on it goes. As you make your way around town you can see the results. Sure there are plenty of businesses that look busy and fine, but I went on a long run and I was struck by how many other places were closed up and dark. Many of them leave all their signs in place so it looks like they are still in operation, but when you get closer you see that they are empty shells…like a Hollywood set depicting a thriving town.
People here are trying to do something about it. We’ve talked to business, political, and education leaders who really are doing all they can to attract other companies; high tech, green energy, film and video production; anything they can lay their hands on that might create work. But we’ve also talked to working folks who, at least at the moment, are pretty skeptical that any of those clever plans will produce any real results any time soon.
I know that you’ll be plenty busy watching the events in Egypt this week, and I can’t blame you if you are preoccupied a bit. But being here has already been a stark reminder of just how much trouble many of our fellow Americans are in, and how that has to remain priority number one as long as it takes until things are better. Because you can see it easily here: When the economy stops working, everything and everyone suffers, no matter how much they try to put on a brave face.
We’ll be doing reports from Nevada all week, introducing many of the wonderful and clever folks here. I hope you get a chance to see some of the reports. And, as always, call if you can.
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