WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- Bubbles are a beautiful thing to watch while they're inflating or floating along, but they can be extremely messy when they burst.
The U.S. still hasn't recovered from the real estate bubble that burst in 2007. Considering the somewhat tenuous state of the second coming of tech spending, the bubbling costs of college inflation, the seemingly limitless heights of gold prices and the ever-expanding demand for health care as baby boomers ease into retirement, there may be another bubble just around the bend.
Don't tell that to Las Vegas, which is still trying to pick up the pieces after the housing bubble's pop shattered its real estate industry. Average home prices dropped from $220,000 in 2008 to just $128,000 in the first quarter of this year. As a result, a 3.21% foreclosure rate quoted for the area by RealtyTrac is still the highest in the nation, and its 13.3% unemployment rate is outdone only by Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.'s 13.9% margin (and 2.04% foreclosure rate). The good news is that foreclosure rate is a 11.54% improvement from fall of last year. The bad news is that it's only a 7.74% upgrade from the same period last year, is still costing more homeowners their properties than anywhere in America and is having a residual effect on business, with traffic down at McCarran Airport and once-untouchable businesses such as the Sahara casino closing, with owners cited the crisis as a reason.
California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida are among the states dealing with double- or near-double-digit unemployment, high foreclosure rates and home prices that have plummeted more than 50% in some cases, but even metropolitan areas within those states were spared the same pain. Another burst bubble could make some of those places feel a lot less lucky. TheStreet took a look at five regions that lean heavily on one industry and at just how much they stand to lose should their bubble be the next to go: