Nevada was barely a state under Fordism, the population of the whole state in 1970 was 496,960, yet the state and in particular Las Vegas became the promised land of Neoliberalism. In Las Vegas work was plentiful and housing was cheap, booms in profits were matched with booms in standards of living, and all this happened with a tiny state presence. Sure Las Vegas was dominated by three industries – gambling, construction, and realty – but no one saw any reason to worry. By 2008 the state population had reached 2,738,733 with 72% of those people living in Las Vegas.
The house of cards collapsed with the rest of the global economy. Tourism declined, heavily leveraged construction projects ground to a halt, housing prices plummeted, workers were laid off, people defaulted on their mortgages, and 15,000 people left the city. I’ll try and make a more detailed analysis how this crisis unfolded in a later post but suffice to say, it’s bad.