U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter of 2016 increased at a 3.5 percent annualized rate. The surprising upswing of real GDP in the third quarter reflects a surge in agricultural (soybean) exports and a rebound in business inventories. The consumer price index also showed the largest jump in two years at 1.7 percent. November housing starts fell significantly by 6.9 percent year-over-year, but the housing price continued its upward trend. With expectations for the new administration, the stock market hit an historic record and consumer confidence surged to its highest point in 12 years. At the same time, the economic policy uncertainty index surged to higher levels, indicating increased economic policy uncertainty. The dollar hit a 14-year high in December but is expected to be stronger in 2017 and 2018 with higher U.S. interest rates and a weaker global economy.
The Nevada economy saw a continued pickup in its economic activity based on the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment gained 3,200 jobs in November. Gaming revenue in November decreased by 1.5 percent compared to a year ago after a surge last month. Taxable sales and gasoline sales (in gallons) in October continued to increase, up by 3.0 and 2.6 percent, respectively, from October 2015. Total air passengers climbed by 3.3 percent year-over-year.
The most recent data on the Clark County economy exhibited favorable signals for the economy. The unemployment rate edged down to 5.3 from 5.5 percent in November. Visitor volume and total McCarran passengers in November increased by 3.2 and 3.4 percent, respectively, compared to a year ago, while November gaming revenue declined by 2.0 percent during the same period. Taxable sales and gasoline sales also climbed by 2.8 and 2.7 percent, respectively, relative to last year. Residential housing permits and commercial permits rebounded remarkably by 58.5 and 86.4 percent, respectively, from a year ago, while commercial permits remained low and volatile.
Washoe County experienced positive signals on local economic growth. The unemployment rate fell and tied with the nationwide rate of 4.6 percent in November. Even though taxable sales posted the weakest year-over-year growth in 2016, it still rose by 1.6 percent from its respective level from last year. Gaming revenue rose by 1.1 percent from a year ago, while total air passengers and visitor volume experienced strong gains, up by 6.7 and 8.4 percent, respectively, year-over-year. Residential housing permits decreased by 3.3 percent from a year ago.
Stephen M. Miller, Director, Jinju Lee, Economic Analyst, UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research