Initial estimates for first quarter 2013 show U.S. real GDP increasing at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent, an improvement over the 0.4 percent growth experienced in fourth quarter 2012. Federal government spending, net exports, and state and local government spending all made negative contributions. Personal consumption expenditures, private inventory investment, business fixed investment, and residential investment all made positive contributions for first quarter. Auto/truck sales and retail sales both decreased from February to March but are up year-over-year. Consumer confidence increased in April, while consumer sentiment declined slightly. The Kansas City Financial Stress Index remained near its long-run average in April, which suggests no financial headwinds, and the Federal Reserve System’s Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey indicates that credit may finally be loosening.
The Nevada economy evidenced mostly positive signs in February. Seasonally adjusted, statewide employment decreased by 2,900 (0.3 percent) jobs from February to March, but it was still up 1.7 percent year-over-year. The Nevada unemployment rate increased slightly from 9.6 percent to 9.7 percent. December visitor volume was 1.8 percent higher than a year earlier. Taxable sales continued to show growth, up 4.2 percent from last year. Gaming revenue was up 7.0 percent from March 2012.
For Clark County, seasonally adjusted employment fell from February to March by 300 jobs, but it was still up 2.0 percent year-over-year. The Las Vegas unemployment rate remained constant at 9.9 percent. Total passengers at McCarran Airport were up 0.8 percent from a year earlier. Compared to a year ago, March visitor volume was up by 0.2 percent. Gaming revenue was 7.4 percent higher in March than a year earlier. Clark County’s taxable sales for January were 0.1 percent below those from a year earlier. Residential construction permits increased from February to March. Commercial construction permits remained at a low level.
The most recent data show positive signals for Washoe County. Seasonally adjusted, Reno-Sparks’ employment declined by 300 (0.2 percent) jobs from February to March. Total employment remains up from a year ago, by 1.2 percent. The seasonally adjusted Reno-Sparks’ unemployment rate remained constant at 9.6 percent. Compared to a year earlier, March visitor volume and total passengers were up 4.7 and 4.5 percent, respectively. Gaming revenues for March were up strongly (9.5 percent) from a year earlier. Residential construction permits decreased in March, while commercial construction permits remained low.
The U.S. economy experienced a slight pickup in growth for first quarter 2013. Consumer spending and most measures of the housing market are showing continued improvement. A weak national economy is affecting Nevada in the form of slowing growth in tourism. Despite the slowing tourism, taxable sales continue to make gains at the state level. Nevada’s employment is also showing relatively stable year-over-year gains.
Ryan T. Kennelly
UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research
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