Thursday, September 30, 2021 | 2 a.m
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a public health and economic crisis that has hit the entire country, but perhaps no place has suffered more from the economic effects of the pandemic than Las Vegas and Nevada as a whole.
Our state’s dependence on tourism, the service industry, and the movement of people was particularly ill-suited to weather restrictions that were slowing the spread of a contagious virus. The businesses and workers of our state are just beginning to recover. Sadly, Congress is considering a new corporate investment tax targeting deferred interest that would be devastating for Latin American businesses that have suffered over the past 18 months.
A 2021 Brookings Institution article found that, compared to other cities, Las Vegas faced significantly higher unemployment at the end of 2020. Specifically, Las Vegas had the fourth highest unemployment rate. of all metropolitan areas in the country, rising 3.6%. in November 2019 to 11.5% in November 2020. The Reno region has also experienced a sustained increase in unemployment.
Brookings also found that COVID-19 has been particularly difficult for workers and businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry, with tourists forgoing vacations while restaurants and live event venues had to adhere to closures and limited capacity. Nationally, 16% of workers in the leisure and hospitality sector are unemployed. In Las Vegas, more than a quarter of workers are in this industry and have suffered a 41% drop in hotel room occupancy rates, a virtual shutdown of the lucrative conference industry. business and a 52% drop in overall tourist visits to southern Nevada. .
The same study also found that the regions suffering the most from the COVID-19 pandemic “also tend to have larger Hispanic or Latino populations.”
“Thus, the economic geography of the pandemic amplifies existing disparities, exacerbating the racial wealth gap for Hispanic or Latino families,” the study said.
Indeed, Latino workers and businesses tend to be concentrated in service industries or businesses that have limited access to capital. Before the pandemic, only 11% of small businesses in the country’s predominantly Latin American communities had more than 14 days of cash reserve.
The Nevada Latin Chamber of Commerce represents more than 1,500 members of the state’s business community. Part of my role within the organization is to educate lawmakers and the public on policies that create jobs and grow Latin American businesses.
That’s why I urge lawmakers to oppose the corporate investment tax, which would hurt the Latin American community and slow Nevada’s recovery from the current and devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
The tax is backed by lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And targets earning interests, which encourages investment in businesses and real estate projects. . Passing this tax would make it harder for Latin American businesses to get the private investment they need to hire workers, expand their operations, or simply keep their doors open during times of economic crisis.
In 2020, more than 71,000 workers across Nevada were employed by companies that received $ 3.3 billion in private investment that would be targeted by this tax. These investments are often the only source of capital for minority-owned businesses that have difficulty obtaining bank loans or often pay higher interest rates.
The investments targeted by this tax are also generating strong returns for public pension funds, which support thousands of dedicated first responders, teachers and other public servants. The corporate investment tax would also reduce funding for housing construction projects, making it more difficult for real estate developers to build affordable housing.
Nevada businesses have a lot of work to do in the months and years to come. Nevada lawmakers such as Reps Steven Horsford and Susie Lee, and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto have stood up for Nevada businesses and workers by supporting funding for emergency relief during the pandemic. I urge them to continue to stand up for struggling Nevadans by opposing the business investment tax before it is included in the next $ 3.5 trillion budget proposal. Our jobs and our businesses depend on it.
Peter Guzman is the President and CEO of the Nevada Latin Chamber of Commerce.