According to revised data, U.S. real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 1.8 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. U.S. nonfarm employment rose by 200,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. Both consumer confidence and sentiment rose sharply in November and December. Sales of existing homes rose by 4.0 percent in November, and are well above a year earlier. Sales of new homes slipped in November after holding steady for two straight months.
The Nevada economy continues to show signs of growth. Taking a seasonal decline in November, visitor volume was 2.5 percent higher than a year earlier. Gaming revenue was 7.1 percent higher in November than a year earlier. Taxable sales were up by 12.1 percent in October above a year earlier. From November 2010 to November 2011, Nevada saw a gain of 12,600 jobs (1.1 percent), mostly the result of gains in leisure and hospitality, business services, and health and education services. The Nevada unemployment rate fell from 12.7 percent in October to 12.2 percent in November.
Clark County’s economic activity continues to expand at a slow pace. Compared to a year earlier, visitor volume was up by 2.3 percent in November. Gaming revenues were up by 7.8 percent over the same period. Residential construction permits rose from November to December, and commercial construction permits held steady at a low level. Employment in the Las Vegas metropolitan area increased by 11,400 jobs (1.4 percent) from November 2010 to November 2011. The Las Vegas unemployment rate fell from 13.1 percent in October to 12.5 percent in November.
Washoe County’s overall economic conditions appear mixed. Compared to a year earlier, November visitor volume was up by 4.2 percent, and gaming was up by 2.0 percent. Both residential and commercial construction permits slipped from November to December, and both remain near historically low levels. Reno-Sparks employment fell by 1,500 jobs from November 2010 to November 2011. The Reno-Sparks unemployment rate fell from 12.1 percent in October to 11.6 percent in November, as job-seeking declined.
Driven by strong gains in spending, national economic conditions improved in third quarter. The Southern Nevada tourism, hospitality, and gaming industries continued to show gains—as did other parts of the region’s economy. The Southern Nevada economy is likely to show further gains as the U.S. economy strengthens. The economy remains weak in Washoe County, but some favorable signs are seen in visitor volume and gaming.