The U.S. economy continues a slow and uneven pace of recovery from its deepest recession since the Great Depression. Estimated growth of real GDP was 2.5 percent at an annualized rate for third quarter 2010—stronger than the 1.7 percent figure for second quarter 2010. U.S. nonfarm employment rose by a moderate 103,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted) in December, marking the third straight month of increases. In addition, real personal consumption spending, retail sales and housing sales increased in November. On the negative side, consumer confidence slipped in December.
With U.S. consumption spending rising, the Nevada economy continues to show uneven signs of recovery. Nevada gaming revenues through November were up 0.2 percent year-to-date, but November gaming revenues were 7.5 percent below October and 5.9 percent below a year earlier. Convention and show rotation and one less weekend day in November led to sharply reduced visitor volume. The Nevada unemployment rate rose to 14.0 percent—even as labor force participation continued slipping.
The economic picture for Clark County is a little more robust than for the state as a whole. Gaming revenues through November were up 0.8 percent year-to-date, but November gaming revenues were 5.5 percent below October and 4.7 percent below a year earlier. As in the state, November Clark County visitor volume fell sharply from October but was higher than a year earlier. October taxable sales were down slightly from September but higher than a year earlier. Residential construction permits fell sharply, and Las Vegas employment nudged downward. The Las Vegas unemployment rate rose slightly from 14.1 to 14.3 percent.
Washoe County economic activity is a little less robust than for the state as a whole. Gaming revenues through November were down 3.9 percent year-to-date, and November gaming revenues were 25.1 percent below October and 19.7 percent below a year earlier. Visitor volume continued to slip downward in November, and October taxable sales fell by 9.1 percent. Employment was down slightly from October. The Reno-Sparks unemployment rate rose from 12.8 to 13.2 percent.
With the national recovery showing continued signs of reinvigoration, the Nevada economy—particularly the leisure and hospitality sectors—shows uneven signs of growth. The real estate and construction sectors are likely nearing bottom, but the large overhang in residential and commercial space suggests no significant improvement is likely for quite some time. Given the lingering issues in the financial sector and the reluctance of businesses to invest, the U.S. economy is likely to continue on a slow upward path, which suggests a slow and uneven recovery for the Nevada economy.