According to initial data, U.S. real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent during third quarter 2011, which is up considerably from the second quarter estimate of 1.3 percent. Third quarter growth was the strongest seen since third quarter 2010, but U.S. real GDP remains 6.7 percent below potential. U.S. nonfarm employment rose by 80,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate fell to 9.0 percent, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey showing an employment gain of 277,000. With a slight improvement in the labor market, consumer confidence slipped in October, but consumer sentiment rose. Retail sales and personal consumption expenditures rose in September after strong figures in July and August. The Kansas City Financial Stress Index edged upward in October and remained above its long-run average, suggesting that financial headwinds to U.S. economic growth are continuing.
The Nevada economy continues to show signs of slow growth. Visitor volume was up in September compared to a year earlier, but total gaming revenues softened. Taxable sales in August were up by 5.7 percent above a year earlier. From August to September, Nevada saw a gain of 10,000 jobs (0.9 percent), partly as the result of seasonal gains in state and local government employment. The unemployment rate fell from 13.8 to 13.3 percent—strictly the result of seasonal factors.
The pace of economic activity in Clark County remains uneven. Compared to a year earlier, visitor volume was up by 4.7 percent in September, but total gaming revenues were down by 6.6 percent. Taxable sales for September were 3.5 percent above those for the same month a year earlier. Residential and commercial construction permits fell in September, and both remain near historically low levels. Employment in construction, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, education and health services, and state and local government rose in September—with the latter representing a seasonal gain as teachers and professors returned to their classrooms. Total employment in the Las Vegas metropolitan area rose by 9,600 jobs. The unemployment rate fell from 14.3 to 13.6 percent—mostly the result of seasonal factors.
Washoe County’s overall economic conditions appear somewhat weaker. Compared to a year earlier, September visitor volume was down by 0.8 percent, but gaming was up by 0.2 percent. Residential construction permits rose in September, but it and commercial construction permits remain near historically low levels. Largely as the result of seasonal factors, Reno-Sparks employment rose by 700 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate fell from 13.0 to 12.6 percent.