Cover, Applied Analysis Social Services Indicators Briefing

February 2012

Numerous programs are available in southern Nevada to offer assistance to families in need during tough times; however, assistance is typically designed to provide temporary relief. Help in the form of both monetary and non-monetary support may run out before needy families are able to get back on their feet. This is especially the case during periods of economic downturn, when families may face hardship for years at a time. Although the United States has made significant progress in recovering most recently from the "Great Recession" over two years ago, many families continue to struggle in the wake of this recession, resulting in mixed trends among the social service indicators.

Despite a national unemployment rate that has hovered around 9 percent since April, the unemployment rate in the Las Vegas MSA has fluctuated throughout the year. According to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the Las Vegas unemployment rate reached 13.1 percent in October 2011, up 1.1 percentage points since the year-to-date low of 12.0 percent reported in April. Although southern Nevada's unemployment rate remains elevated, bright spots remain as southern Nevada's economy appears to be gaining some positive momentum in the tourism and education and health services sectors. In particular, employment levels in the leisure and hospitality sector are up 5.8 percent compared to a year ago. Overall, the region's unemployment rate has dropped 1.7 percentage points from the 14.8 percent rate reported in October 2010.

Another key indicator worth mentioning is average weekly hours worked, which typically responds faster to economic conditions than changes in the number of jobs available. During the month of October, private sector employees in the Las Vegas metro area worked an average of 33.6 hours per week, down 0.6 percent year-over-year and the third lowest average on record since the recession officially commenced in December 2007. As employers tend to cut or add back employee hours based on market demand and sentiment, the latest numbers may suggest that while overall economic activity has improved, uncertainty still exists about the sustainability of the economy's improvements. Companies in industries other than leisure and hospitality will likely focus on improving the bottom line before making significant full-time hiring commitments, and hotels and casinos appear to be managing hours to control labor costs.

Despite elevated levels of unemployment and mixed economic conditions, the number of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ("TANF") recipients declined in October 2011. The program is meant to temporarily provide support for low-income families to help care for children in their homes or in the homes of relative caretakers. According to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, there were 29,555 TANF caseloads in Nevada versus 32,274 one year ago; this represents a decline of 8.4 percent.

Unfortunately, similar trends were not reported in the number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("SNAP") participants in September 2011 (latest data series reported). SNAP's mission is to provide those eligible with food needed to maintain good health. Eligible individuals may include low-income earners as well as elderly, disabled and homeless individuals. A total of 348,727 residents currently participate in Nevada's SNAP, up 11.0 percent over the 314,253 reported a year ago.

Three Square served 58,289 households in August 2011 (latest data available), up a drastic 16.6 percent over the 50,008 reported in August 2010. Acting as southern Nevada's only food bank that provides food assistance to residents of Lincoln, Nye, Esmeralda and Clark Counties, Three Square serves as the region's central collection and distribution center for food given to those in need. The organization currently provides more than 22 million pounds of food and grocery products per year to more than 600 non-profit and faith-based organizations.

Also up significantly year-over-year is the number of homeless children reported by the Clark County School District. In October (latest month available), there were 5,828 homeless children enrolled at K-12 schools in Clark County. Compared to the same month last year, this total is up a dramatic 22.2 percent.

Not all social welfare indicators reported increases as Clark County notices of default totaled 5,205 in September 2011, representing no change from the same month last year. In addition, the number of Clark County juvenile referrals fell 34.1 percent in October, or from 2,115 to 1,394. Finally, in July 2011 (latest available data to date), there were 3,417 reported property crime incidences, down 8.3 percent since last year.

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June 2011

Impacts of Recent Downturn are Apparent Throughout the Community

Although this report attempts to quantify the social implications of Nevada's current economic condition, the multitude of factors which cannot be readily quantified should neither be dismissed nor overlooked. There is no dollar value that can be assigned to the stress of unemployment - or underemployment - when households sit down to pay their bills each month, move money from place to place, make minimum payments and watch as their savings evaporate. There is no monetary value that can be easily assigned to the stress of lost financial independence after a lifetime of hard work and self-sufficiency.

The social safety nets developed during the past century are designed to provide temporary assistance to individuals and families. But, what happens when "temporary" runs out by choice or fiscal necessity? Moreover, these nets are not designed to address the longer-run implications of these hardships. Like the Great Depression, the Great Recession is likely to be change people's views, attitudes and outlooks for decades to come.

Southern Nevada's unemployment rate has not benefited from the same trends being reported nationally, where unemployment dropped from the peak of 10.1 percent in October 2009 to 9.0 percent in December 2010. The unemployment rate in the Las Vegas-Paradise metropolitan statistical area (MSA) rose to 14.9 percent in December 2010, up from 14.3 in the prior month and 13.0 percent in December 2009, marking a new all-time high for the region.

The Las Vegas MSA also retained the top spot in terms of labor force unemployment when comparing the 30 largest metropolitan areas, with Riverside and Sacramento coming in a distant second and third at 13.9 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively. Despite the recent unemployment rate increase, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) anticipates continued stabilization in the local job market characterized by slow economic growth and establishment-based employment in the Las Vegas MSA increased by 1,900 jobs in December.

Elevated unemployment levels among residents has forced many families to enroll in social assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program designed to provide temporary assistance to needy families to care for dependent children in their own homes or in the homes of relative caretakers. The Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services reported a total of 32,470 grant recipients during December 2010; up 10.3 percent when compared to same month prior year.

In addition, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) reported significant increases year-over-year (+25.3 percent) with 324,658 Nevadans participating in the program during the month of December 2010 (latest data available). Akin to the legacy food stamp program, SNAP helps those in need to buy food needed to maintain good health. Note that in order to qualify for benefits, SNAP recipients must have near-poverty incomes and typically include low-income workers, unemployed persons, disabled or elderly persons, persons receiving other public assistance, or homeless persons. In total, 1 out of every 8 Nevada residents currently qualifies under this definition.

Three Square provided pantry meals to 57,032 families during November 2010 (latest available data); a number that increased 7.6 percent year-over-year and nearly doubled from the 31,735 households served two years ago. Three Square serves as a central location for the Las Vegas metropolitan area where food can be collected and then distributed to non-profit and faith-based organizations, or used for childhood and senior nutrition programs facilitated by Three Square.

A similar upward movement was furthermore noticed among the Clark County School District ("CCSD") student body, as 46.4 percent and 6.7 percent of students received free and reduced lunch assistance, respectively, during the final month of 2010. In total, 164,863 CCSD students were part of free and reduced lunch programs, representing a 4.8-percent increase over the same month of the prior year.

Notably, the economic downturn has not translated into an increase in criminal activity. Property crime incidents reported by the Metropolitan Police Department command area during the year were down compared to 2009, due to falling larceny and auto theft figures. In November, property crimes declined by 4.8 percent year-over-year with 3,653 incidents reported, representing the 22nd month of consecutive declines. Barring auto theft, reported larceny thefts, which accounted for 50.3 percent of total property crimes, declined by 6.2 percent when compared to the same month prior year. Juvenile referrals in Clark County declined for the 7th consecutive month as 1,680 youths were cited and/or arrested in December 2010; this marked a decline of 4.8 percent over the prior year.

Clark County notices of default on home mortgages, which include breaches and lis pendens, have continually declined. When compared to the same month of the prior year, 1,757 fewer notices (-29.7 percent) were filed and delivered in December 2010, representing the 11th decline in the past 12 months. On an annualized basis, notices of defaults have declined 24.0 percent compared to the prior 12 months. Bank acquisitions reported by SalesTraq, which represent residential units that have been repossessed by the lender, showed a similar trend during the year, posting an aggregate decline of 14.2 percent despite a 67.5 percent increase reported during the final month of 2010.

While the social indicators outlined within this report are mixed, the lingering impacts of the most recent downturn are apparent throughout the community. We remain concerned about the strength of the region's social safety net to sustain an ever-growing demand by displaced employees and their families.

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June 2010

Although this report attempts to quantify the social implications of Nevada's current economic condition, the multitude of factors which cannot be readily quantified should neither be dismissed nor overlooked. There is no dollar value that can be assigned to the stress of unemployment - or underemployment - when households sit down to pay their bills each month, move money from place to place, make minimum payments and watch as their savings evaporate. There is no monetary value that can be easily assigned to the stress of lost financial independence after a lifetime of hard work and self-sufficiency.

The social safety nets developed during the past century are designed to provide temporary assistance to individuals and families. But, what happens when "temporary" runs out by choice or fiscal necessity? Moreover, these nets are not designed to address the longer-run implications of these hardships. Like the Great Depression, the Great Recession is likely to be change people's views, attitudes and outlooks for decades to come.

Southern Nevada's unemployment rate has not benefited from the same trends being reported nationally, where unemployment dropped from the peak of 10.1 percent in October 2009 to 9.0 percent in December 2010. The unemployment rate in the Las Vegas-Paradise metropolitan statistical area (MSA) rose to 14.9 percent in December 2010, up from 14.3 in the prior month and 13.0 percent in December 2009, marking a new all-time high for the region.

The Las Vegas MSA also retained the top spot in terms of labor force unemployment when comparing the 30 largest metropolitan areas, with Riverside and Sacramento coming in a distant second and third at 13.9 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively. Despite the recent unemployment rate increase, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) anticipates continued stabilization in the local job market characterized by slow economic growth and establishment-based employment in the Las Vegas MSA increased by 1,900 jobs in December.

Elevated unemployment levels among residents has forced many families to enroll in social assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program designed to provide temporary assistance to needy families to care for dependent children in their own homes or in the homes of relative caretakers. The Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services reported a total of 32,470 grant recipients during December 2010; up 10.3 percent when compared to same month prior year.

In addition, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) reported significant increases year-over-year (+25.3 percent) with 324,658 Nevadans participating in the program during the month of December 2010 (latest data available). Akin to the legacy food stamp program, SNAP helps those in need to buy food needed to maintain good health. Note that in order to qualify for benefits, SNAP recipients must have near-poverty incomes and typically include low-income workers, unemployed persons, disabled or elderly persons, persons receiving other public assistance, or homeless persons. In total, 1 out of every 8 Nevada residents currently qualifies under this definition.

Three Square provided pantry meals to 57,032 families during November 2010 (latest available data); a number that increased 7.6 percent yearover- year and nearly doubled from the 31,735 households served two years ago. Three Square serves as a central location for the Las Vegas metropolitan area where food can be collected and then distributed to non-profit and faith-based organizations, or used for childhood and senior nutrition programs facilitated by Three Square.

A similar upward movement was furthermore noticed among the Clark County School District ("CCSD") student body, as 46.4 percent and 6.7 percent of students received free and reduced lunch assistance, respectively, during the final month of 2010. In total, 164,863 CCSD students were part of free and reduced lunch programs, representing a 4.8-percent increase over the same month of the prior year.

Notably, the economic downturn has not translated into an increase in criminal activity. Property crime incidents reported by the Metropolitan Police Department command area during the year were down compared to 2009, due to falling larceny and auto theft figures. In November, property crimes declined by 4.8 percent year-over-year with 3,653 incidents reported, representing the 22nd month of consecutive declines. Barring auto theft, reported larceny thefts, which accounted for 50.3 percent of total property crimes, declined by 6.2 percent when compared to the same month prior year. Juvenile referrals in Clark County declined for the 7th consecutive month as 1,680 youths were cited and/or arrested in December 2010; this marked a decline of 4.8 percent over the prior year.

Clark County notices of default on home mortgages, which include breaches and lis pendens, have continually declined. When compared to the same month of the prior year, 1,757 fewer notices (-29.7 percent) were filed and delivered in December 2010, representing the 11th decline in the past 12 months. On an annualized basis, notices of defaults have declined 24.0 percent compared to the prior 12 months. Bank acquisitions reported by SalesTraq, which represent residential units that have been repossessed by the lender, showed a similar trend during the year, posting an aggregate decline of 14.2 percent despite a 67.5 percent increase reported during the final month of 2010.

While the social indicators outlined within this report are mixed, the lingering impacts of the most recent downturn are apparent throughout the community. We remain concerned about the strength of the region's social safety net to sustain an ever-growing demand by displaced employees and their families.

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October 2009

Even as the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) announces plans to wind down over the next year and the stock market continues the steady climb it began in March, demand for social services, particularly those related to food and medical care, continues to increase. The number of families requiring federal aid continued to rise in September 2009, recording a new five-year high during the month. Nevada Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federally funded program designed to provide temporary assistance to needy families to care for dependent children in their own homes or in the homes of relative caretakers. There is a five-year lifetime limit for receipt of TANF benefits. TANF recipients totaled 27,762 in September, up from 26,540 in the previous month and 20,076 in the same month previous year. TANF recipient profiles indicate that single parent households have been hardest hit, with 50.5 percent of recipients belonging to that demographic. Non-qualified non-citizens followed, comprising 15.3 percent of recipients, and two-parent households comprised 13.6 percent of recipients. Remaining categories include relative caregivers and loan recipients. According to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, the TANF program continues to experience demand greater than legislatively approved levels (as it has since at least June 2007) a trend which is likely to continue in the near-term.

Recipients of aid from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also increased in August (latest available data), reaching an all-time high of 238,115 recipients. The number of SNAP recipients has doubled since March 2007 and now represents nearly 10 percent of Nevada's population SNAP recipients are low-income workers, unemployed persons, disabled or elderly persons, persons receiving other public assistance, or homeless persons. SNAP is essentially a food stamp program that helps people buy the food they need for good health.

Nationally, a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report noted that 17 million American households, or 14.6 percent of total households, "had difficulty putting enough food on the table at times during the year" in 2008. This represents an increase of 11.1 percent from the previous year's report that 13 million households lacked reliable access to sufficient food. Otherwise stated, this means that one in seven households in the U.S. were food insecure in 2008. This figure will likely be higher in 2009, though results will not be known for another year. What the lagging national statistic may suggest, however, is that there are likely a significant number of Nevadans who are food insecure that are not SNAP recipients. In fact, the USDA reported that food security is observed to deteriorate in the six months prior to receiving SNAP benefits and to improve shortly thereafter.

Coincidentally, the number of households served by Three Square continued to rise during the third quarter, surpassing 40,000 in September 2009 (latest available data). The organization noted that 45.5 percent of the 300,000 students enrolled in the Clark County School District, or 140,000 students, receive free and reduced meals. Three Square serves as a central location for the Las Vegas Valley where food can be collected and then distributed to non-profit and faith-based organizations, or used for childhood and senior nutrition programs facilitated by Three Square. One year ago, the organization reported serving 25,063 households, while two years ago, it was serving less than 10,000 households. In September 2009 alone, the organization served 40,812 households, nearly double the level served one year ago, and four times the level served two years ago. The organization will no doubt experience increased demand throughout the holiday season.

Consistent with other social indicators, the number of Medicaid eligible recipients continued to rise during the third quarter of the year, with 225,488 individuals eligible by September 2009. This represents an increase of 20 percent year-over-year, or an additional 37,400 individuals now eligible for Medicaid. Meanwhile, Nevada Checkup enrollment has been declining over the past two years, negatively correlating with the rise in Medicaid recipients. Nevada Checkup is a state and federally funded program that provides low-cost health coverage to uninsured children from birth to 18 years of age who are not covered by Medicaid. Thus, as more families become Medicaid eligible, the number of children enrolled in Nevada Checkup declines.

On a positive note, a trend of decreasing juvenile referrals continued this quarter, declining 29.6 percent in October 2009 compared to the same month in 2008, while the trailing 12-month total is down 6.7 percent. Child Protective Services has also reported a decline of 30.2 percent in the trailing 12-month total of investigation calls. If these trends continue, further study into the reasons would be merited. Clark County Social Services reported turning away 3,116 clients due to a lack of capacity, a statistic which remains elevated compared to historical norms, though it has improved over the past several months.

After rising steadily for seventeen consecutive months, the Las Vegas MSA unemployment rate declined by nearly one percent from September's peak of 13.9 percent to 13.0 percent in October 2009, and fell by almost another percentage point to 12.1 percent in November 2009. Though some may interpret the decline as a positive sign, it is worth noting that the number of employed individuals has declined by 0.5 percent since September. Employment stood at 866,500 in November, a level not seen since February 2006. In fact, the total labor force has declined by a staggering 26,000 since September, which is the reason for the decline in the unemployment rate. If the labor force stood where it did in September, the unemployment rate today would be 14.3 percent. The exact share of those that have dropped out of the labor force that have left the area in recent days versus those that are simply waiting on the sidelines until conditions improve is unknown, though history suggests that individuals tend to stay put during difficult economic times.

Indicating that housing stress continues in the area, foreclosures in the Las Vegas Valley remained elevated at 2,301 in October 2009, which is just slightly below the 2,435 repossessions reported in the same month of the previous year. Foreclosures steadily rose from just 53 during the month of January 2006 to peak at 2,810 in August 2008, and have subsequently averaged over 2,000 per month, including the latest month. For the 129,700 Las Vegans that continue to unsuccessfully attempt to secure employment, making timely home mortgage payments will become increasingly difficult. As long as a significant amount of owners owe more on their homes than they are worth, the risk of continued foreclosure due to owner "walk-out" will also remain high. A potentially positive leading indicator is that notices of breaches and defaults reported by the Clark County Recorder (which precede actual foreclosure) were down 27.2 percent during the third quarter of 2009 compared to the previous quarter. In October 2009, such notices totaled 5,838, the lowest monthly total since March 2008.

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