Nevada experienced a year of strong growth in 2004. From January to December, each month’s year-over-year percentage growth exceeded 10 percent. Moreover, the Silver State did not suffer the midyear soft spot the U. S. economy experienced. In short, Nevada’s performance was outstanding.
By year’s end, Nevada’s employment was up 4.8 percent for the year. Clark County and Washoe County employment levels were up 5.3 and 4.1 percent, respectively. U.S. employment was up 1.7 percent over the same period. Unemployment rates for Nevada, Clark County and Washoe County were 3.6, 3.5 and 3.3 percent, respectively. Lower rates would suggest firms are unable to find workers; and higher rates would signal workers are unable to get jobs. The 3 to 4 percent unemployment rates account for workers moving about from old to new jobs. As a result, 3.6 percent rates are about as good as they get.
With Nevada and U.S. construction industries posting record numbers since 2001, one might reasonably expect more modest numbers for 2005, particularly as the Fed continues to push interest rates up. In Nevada, some market corrections are underway. Permitting for residences is down for December in both Las Vegas and Reno. Commercial permits, however, remain positive.
Overall, the year ahead calls for more moderate growth, down about a full point from last year. This lower rate of growth in U.S. GDP, however, will be accompanied by better job growth than we have seen since 2000. Nevada, having sprinted throughout 2004, will also see more modest growth in 2005, if for no other reason than the difficulty of maintaining its employment, gross gaming revenue and taxable sales numbers. Major indicators will move forward at slower rates in 2005. Still, 2005 will be a good year.