Applications Roll in for 12,000 New Jobs in Las Vegas

It's all about the numbers in Las Vegas and, lately, the numbers have not been good.

There was a 26 percent drop in gambling revenue late last year and a $5.1 billion increase in the price tag of the city's brand new CityCenter hotel and casino. It's the largest in Vegas' history, and that's saying something.

Including cost overruns, MGM Mirage has spent about $9.1 billion on CityCenter so far as construction nears completion. But the magic number is 12,000. That's the number that set this town on fire.

People are scrambling to inquire about CityCenter's 12,000 job openings, considered by some to be the largest single employment opportunity in the United States.

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Among Monday's hoards of hopefuls stood Las Vegas resident Brandy Smith-Philips, who was waiting her turn to be called for a brief starter interview at a makeshift job center set up by CityCenter.

She has been unemployed for the past six months.

"I got laid off," she said. "And I've just been at home with my daughter. But it has been very, very difficult for the last six to seven months to find a job."

The days of easy money on the Strip are over. Unemployment hit Las Vegas hard and it's now at a 23-year high. It's no wonder: 2008 will go down as having the biggest annual gambling decline since they started keeping records here.

Fewer people means fewer flights -- airlines have cut out 15 percent of their flights headed to Vegas.

The domino effect is crushing the hotel business.

Caesar's Palace is halting a new construction project mid-stream, the Venetian put the breaks on a condo project, and the brand new Wynn Casino opened just in time to see room rates plummet.

A $4.8 billion resort called the Eschelon has come to a screeching halt and today sits unfinished, cranes and all.

And then there are the home foreclosures -- among the worst in the nation. It's so bad, you can take a bus tour of foreclosed homes instead of a tour of the famous Las Vegas Strip.

That is why when you look around this room at people lining up for jobs, the urgency is palpable.

"Everybody that is around me has pretty much went...," Smith-Philips said, gesturing thumbs down. "My father, family, friends, nobody around me is doing good. Everybody has lost their jobs."

The room is filled with similar stories and similar hopes.

Some, such as Elvira Garcia, brought their families along. "I want to start my new life here in Las Vegas and I know I can make it," she said.

Nick Coury heard about the mass hiring while at home in Arizona and set off for Vegas.

"I see more opportunities here than there is in Phoenix right now," he said. "It's to the point right now that I see about 10,000 applicants for about 100 jobs. And no one's hiring right now because everyone's worried about what the future may hold."

The jobs at CityCenter are everything you might imagine at a combination hotel, casino, condo and shopping complex: gaming, hotel operations, finance, food and beverages, entertainment and more.

12,000 Jobs, 100,000 Applications

CityCenter human resources chief Michael Peltyn said 35,000 job applications flooded in just this first week. They're expecting at least 100,000 people to try their luck for the 12,000 openings.

"We can screen 700 people a day in person and another three or four hundred via telephone for out-of-state applicants," he said. "So we can talk to about 1,000 people daily."

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