Aerial of housing tracts

Las Vegas and the Middle Class

About the Project

Las Vegas and the Middle Class is a major project exploring public policy initiatives designed to improve the quality of life of the middle class in Las Vegas, and to increase the number of people rising to join its ranks. Through independent, non-partisan analysis and policy development, we seek to advance public understanding of the challenges facing the middle class in Las Vegas, and barriers to upward mobility.

In collaboration with visiting scholars from the Brookings Institution - including Richard Reeves, Camille Busette, and others – experts at Brookings Mountain West, The Lincy Institute, and faculty across the UNLV campus will explore public policy questions critical to Las Vegas and the region. As part of the Brookings Institution’s Future Of The Middle Class Initiative, this project will combine the expertise of this nationally-focused project with a local-focus on the Las Vegas metropolitan region.

Current Events

No events found. Please check back soon.

In the News

Publications

Should Las Vegas Bet on Homeownership? Trends in Housing Affordability and Homeownership

By Jenny Schuetz

In many parts of the U.S., rents and housing prices are rising faster than household incomes. Low-income families have always been stretched to pay for housing without sacrificing other necessities. In recent years, housing costs have become a larger source of financial stress for middle-income families. While homeownership has been the primary channel for wealth building in the U.S., two recent trends raise questions about whether this is a viable strategy. First, many homeowners suffered severe financial losses due to housing price declines during the Great Recession (2007-2009). Second, homeownership rates for Black and Latino families lag those of white and Asian families – a challenge as the nation’s population becomes increasingly diverse. The Las Vegas metropolitan area is at the forefront of both of these trends. In this paper, I explore recent trends in housing affordability and homeownership in Las Vegas and discuss implications for financial security and wealth-building.

Top ten 2018 reads on the Future of the Middle Class

By Richard Reeves and Katherine Guyot

It has been a busy year for the Future of the Middle Class Initiative. After launching in May with an event keynoted by Vice President Joe Biden, we defined the middle class, partnered with a team of policy experts to study it, and heard from Governors John Kasich and John Hickenlooper for the release of our own Isabel Sawhill’s new book, The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation.

Building A Strong Middle Class In The American Mountain West

By Richard Reeves

Using data from the Equality of Opportunity Project, Reeves explores how public universities in the Mountain West differ significantly in terms of the populations they serve and the outcomes for their students. Colorado State University, the University of Utah, all public universities in Arizona, and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) all take around half their students from families in the top 20% of the national income distribution, and very few from the bottom 20%. The other four institutions—Utah State University, Boise State University, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) take many more students from families in the middle 60% of the distribution. UNLV takes more students from the middle 60% (62%) than any other university in the Mountain West.

Upward Mobility in the American Mountain West

By Richard Reeves

Upward economic and social mobility is an intrinsic element of American society. Data from the Equality of Opportunity Project (EOP) demonstrates that upward mobility is a critical issue for our nation’s metros. An analysis of Mountain West metros and the performances of colleges and universities in this region reveal how the differing economic, demographic, and social characteristics affect mobility. This brief explores upward mobility rates, measures of diversity, levels of domestic and foreign migration, and students’ family household income and their eventual individual incomes. The comparison of postsecondary institutions in Mountain West metros serves as a microcosm to better understand how metros and their universities can best serve our nation’s ever diversifying population.

Making a Middle Class: Colleges and Cities in the Mountain West

By Richard Reeves

A stronger middle class is important for the economic and political future of both cities and nations. Analyses focusing on the size of the middle class can be misleading, providing information on income inequality or temporary economic conditions. More important than the size of the middle class is the quality of life of the middle class. Higher education can serve students from middle-class backgrounds, helping them sustain a middle-class standard of living and rise up the economic ladder, as well as providing “on ramps” to the middle class for those from low-income backgrounds. We show that middle class wage earners bore the brunt of the Great Recession in Las Vegas. Using a new metric of mobility based on data from Opportunity Insights (formerly the Equality of Opportunity Project), we also examine the contribution of colleges in the Mountain West to serving and strengthening the middle class.

Presentations

  • Nov. 20, 2019
    Housing - Las Vegas and the Middle Class

    Housing - Las Vegas and the Middle Class

    Brookings Mountain West is pleased to present an event focusing on housing as part of “Las Vegas and the Middle Class,” a major project exploring public policy initiatives designed to improve the quality of life of the middle class in Las Vegas and to increase the number of people rising to join its ranks. Through independent, non-partisan analysis and policy development, we seek to advance...
  • Nov. 9, 2018
    Las Vegas and the Middle Class Presentation

    Las Vegas and the Middle Class

    Brookings Mountain West is pleased to launch “Las Vegas and the Middle Class,” a major project exploring public policy initiatives designed to improve the quality of life of the middle class in Las Vegas, and to increase the number of people rising to join its ranks. Through independent, non-partisan analysis and policy development, we seek to advance public understanding of the challenges facing...
  • Mar. 7, 2018
    Richard Reeves speaking

    Upward Mobility in the Mountain West

    As part of the Brookings Scholar Lecture Series, Brookings Mountain West invites you to a lecture titled "Upward Mobility in the Mountain West" by Senior Fellow in Economic Studies, Richard Reeves. This lecture examines the state of the American dream in the Mountain West. Which cities and states have the highest rates of upward social mobility, and why? What role do colleges and universities...

UNLV Contributors

William E. Brown Jr.

UNLV Director

Office: GUA 2109
Phone: 702-895-0091
Fax: 702-895-0100

David Damore, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

David Damore
Office: WRI-B 225
Mail Code: 5029
Phone: 702-895-5258

Robert E. Lang, Ph.D.

Executive Director, The Lincy Institute

Robert E. Lang, Ph.D.
Office: GUA 2112
Phone: 702-895-0094
Fax: 702-895-0100

Jaewon Lim, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Office: GUA 3117
Mail Code: 4030
Phone: 702-793-3490

Caitlin J. Saladino, Ph.D.

Director of Strategic Development & Operations

A woman with glasses smiling
Office: GUA 2111
Phone: 702-895-0093
Fax: 702-895-0100

Bradley (Brad) Wimmer, Ph.D.

Professor

Bradley (Brad) Wimmer
Office: BEH 511
Mail Code: 6005
Phone: 702-895-3018
Fax: 702-895-1354

Brookings Contributors

Camille Busette, Ph.D.

Camille Busette
Camille Busette is director of the Brookings Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative and a senior fellow in Governance Studies, with affiliated appointments in Economic Studies and Metropolitan Policy. Camille has dedicated her career to expanding financial opportunities for low-income populations. She came to Brookings from the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), where she served as...

Richard Reeves, Ph.D.

Richard Reeves
Richard V. Reeves, a frequent contributor to Brookings Mountain West, is a senior fellow in Economic Studies, Director of the Future of the Middle Class Initiative and co-director of the Center on Children and Families. His research focuses on the middle class, inequality and social mobility. Richard’s publications for Brookings include his latest book Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper...