The “advance” estimate for first quarter 2014 shows U.S. real gross domestic product increasing at an annualized rate of 0.1 percent, much lower than the 2.6 percent growth experienced in fourth quarter 2013. Personal consumption expenditures and federal government spending made positive contributions. U.S. nonfarm employment experienced robust gains in April, adding 288,000 jobs over March. Housing starts were down year-over-year, and housing prices experienced a slight decline.
The Nevada economy evidenced mostly positive signals for the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted, statewide employment increased by 4,700 (0.4 percent) jobs from February to March, and it was up 3.8 percent year-over-year. The Nevada unemployment rate remained constant at 8.5 percent. Taxable sales continued to show growth, up 4.6 percent from last year. Total air passengers were up 1.2 percent over the same time period. Gaming revenue experienced gains for the month and were up 7.4 percent from March 2013.
For Clark County, seasonally adjusted employment rose from February to March by 3,100 jobs and was up 3.6 percent year-over-year. The Las Vegas unemployment rate remained constant at 8.7 percent. Total passengers at McCarran Airport were up 2.8 percent from a year earlier. March visitor volume was up 4.7 percent from a year ago. Gaming revenue was 9.2 percent higher in March than a year earlier, the result of an increase in baccarat and slot play. Clark County’s taxable sales for February were 10.4 percent above 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 mixed signals for Washoe County. Seasonally adjusted, Reno-Sparks’ employment increased by 200 (0.1 percent) jobs from February to March. Total employment is up over a year ago, by 3.9 percent. The seasonally adjusted Reno-Sparks unemployment rate remained constant at 8.2 percent. Compared to a year earlier, March visitor volume was down 0.5 percent. Total air passengers were down 12.1 percent from February 2012. Gaming revenues for March were down 10.7 percent from a year earlier. Residential construction decreased from February to March, while commercial construction permits remained low.
The U.S. economy experienced minimal growth for first quarter 2014. Consumer spending is showing continued improvement, but some measures of the housing market have declined recently. A weak national economy is affecting Nevada in the form of slowing growth in tourism. Despite the slowing tourism, taxable sales continue to make some gains at the state level. Recently, Nevada’s employment is also showing higher growth.
Ryan T. Kennelly, Economic Analyst
UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research