December 2012: Business Indicators

The U.S. economy is showing signs of moderate improvement. Estimates of U.S. real GDP for third quarter 2012 show an annualized growth rate of 2.0 percent. Although higher than the tepid 1.3 percent growth rate for second quarter, the third quarter rate is well below the average growth rate of 3.4 percent the U.S. economy experienced from 1947 to 2007. Growth in U.S. real GDP during third quarter 2012 was driven by increases in personal consumption expenditures, federal government spending, and resident fixed investment. Non-residential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and net exports all made negative contributions. U.S. nonfarm employment continues to rise, gaining 171,000 jobs from September to October. The unemployment rate rose from 7.8 to 7.9 percent in the same time period, as labor force participation increased. Business surveys and anecdotal reports show businesses delaying investment until after a number of policy uncertainties, including the fiscal cliff, abate.

The Nevada economy showed mixed signals for September. Seasonally adjusted, statewide employment increased by 7,100 jobs (0.6 percent) from August to September. The Nevada unemployment rate decreased slightly from 12.1 percent to 11.8 percent. Nevada is seeing a slowing in the growth of tourism. Visitor volume was 1.4 percent higher in September than a year earlier. Gaming revenue was 3.3 percent higher year-over-year. Taxable sales continue to show strong growth, up 7.6 percent from last year.

For Clark County, seasonally adjusted employment decreased from August to September by 700 jobs. The Las Vegas unemployment rate declined slightly from 12.0 percent in August to 11.7 percent in September. Total passengers at McCarran Airport are down 4.2 percent from a year earlier. Compared to a year ago, September visitor volume was up by 0.9 percent. Gaming revenue was 3.7 percent higher in September than a year earlier. Clark County’s taxable sales for August were 8.1 percent above those for a year earlier. Residential construction permits increased slightly from August to September. Commercial construction permits remained at a low level.

The most recent data for Washoe County mirror those at the state level. Seasonally adjusted, Reno-Sparks’ employment increased by 800 jobs (0.4 percent) from August to September. The seasonally adjusted Reno-Sparks unemployment rate declined slightly, from 11.8 percent in August to 11.6 in September. Compared to a year earlier, September visitor volume was up by 3.0 percent. Gaming revenues for September were up by 0.6 percent over the same period a year earlier. Residential construction permits increased in September, while commercial construction permits remained low.

Ryan T. Kennelly
UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research

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