According to revised data, U.S. real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2 percent during third quarter 2011, which represents a gain over the second-quarter figure of 1.3 percent. Consumption spending and business fixed investment were particularly strong. Preliminary indicators—such as retail sales, industrial production and trade—suggest U.S. real GDP will show even stronger growth in fourth quarter 2011. U.S. nonfarm employment rose by 120,000 jobs in November. The unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent, largely because labor force participation declined. Both consumer confidence and sentiment rose sharply. The Kansas City Financial Stress Index edged downward in November but remained above its long-run average, suggesting that financial headwinds continue to slow U.S. economic growth.
The Nevada economy continues to show signs of slow growth. Visitor volume was up in October, and strong baccarat play drove big gains in gaming revenues. Taxable sales in September were up by 10.4 percent above a year earlier. From September to October, Nevada saw a gain of 5,500 jobs (0.5 percent), mostly the result of seasonal adjustments in government and leisure and hospitality employment. The unemployment rate fell from 13.2 to 12.7 percent—strictly the result of seasonal factors.
The pace of economic activity in Clark County has strengthened. Compared to a year earlier, visitor volume was up by 1.9 percent in October. Total gaming revenues were up by 10.4 percent. Taxable sales for October were 10.5 percent above those for the same month a year earlier. Residential construction permits rose in October, and commercial construction permits fell. Both remain near historically low levels. Employment in transportation, information services, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, education and health services, and state government rose in October. Many of the gains were seasonal. Total employment in the Las Vegas metropolitan area rose by 4,200 jobs. The unemployment rate fell from 13.6 to 13.1 percent—seemingly the result of seasonal factors.
Washoe County’s overall economic conditions appear weaker. Compared to a year earlier, October visitor volume was down by 3.2 percent, and gaming was down by 9.3 percent. Residential construction permits rose in October, but it and commercial construction permits remain near historically low levels. Largely as the result of seasonal factors, Reno-Sparks employment rose by 1,300 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate fell from 12.6 to 12.1 percent.
National economic conditions improved in third quarter, and a stronger fourth quarter seems underway. Nevada’s real estate and construction sectors remain close to bottom. The economy remains weak in Washoe County.