Report Says Las Vegas Has World's Fifth-Worst Economy

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"Well-educated cities and globally-linked cities have done well in this downturn. They have workforces that are less likely to get laid off," said Lang.

The report says that improving Las Vegas' low rate of college degrees from 22 percent of adults would be crucial in helping diversify the city's economy. But Brown said that although having a more educated population could help Las Vegas from being hit so hard in future economic downturns, he doesn't think it's as crucial to the city's recovery from this recession - which he says will just come as the nation recovers. He noted that cities like Rio de Janeiro, which were ranked in the top ten on the Brookings list, weren't well-known for their educated populations.

Berube said that the service-based economies of many U.S. cities require their workforce to be more highly educated.

"The value of educational attainment depends on what state of development your city or nation is in," he said. "If you're in a lower income place, and a lot of what you do is commodities, it's not as important to have a highly educated population."

Ten Cities With Worst 2009-2010 Economic Performance

1. Dublin, Ireland

2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

3. Barcelona, Spain

4. Thessaloniki, Greece

5. Las Vegas, United States

6. Valencia, Spain

7. Riga, Latvia

8. Johannesburg, South Africa

9. Madrid, Spain

10. Athens, Greece

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