According to the second estimate, U.S. real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 3.0 percent during fourth quarter 2011, which represents a substantial gain over the third-quarter rate of 1.8 percent. U.S. nonfarm employment rose by 227,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent as labor force participation increased. Consumer confidence and consumer sentiment both increased in February. After slipping in December, sales of existing homes rebounded in January, reaching 0.7 percent above a year earlier. Personal consumption expenditures increased in January for the seventh straight month, and retail sales rose in February for the ninth straight month.
The Nevada economy continues to show uneven signs of growth. With a seasonal gain in January, visitor volume was 0.3 percent lower than a year earlier. Gaming revenue was 18.3 percent higher in January than a year earlier. Taxable sales were up by 3.8 percent in December above a year earlier. From December 2010 to December 2011, Nevada saw a gain of 13,100 jobs (1.2 percent), mostly the result of gains in leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation, and utilities; business services; health and education services; and other services. Employment declined seasonally in January. The Nevada unemployment rate increased seasonally from 12.9 percent in December to 13.0 percent in January.
Clark County’s economy continues to expand at a faster pace than the state’s. Compared to a year earlier, visitor volume was up by 0.4 percent in January. Gaming revenues were up by 21.6 percent over the same period. Taxable sales for December were 9.5 percent above those for the same month a year earlier. Residential construction permits dropped from December to January. From December 2010 to December 2011, employment in the Las Vegas metropolitan area increased by 9,500 jobs (1.2 percent). The Las Vegas unemployment rate fell from 13.3 in December to 13.1 percent in January.
Washoe County’s economic conditions remain mostly weak. Compared to a year earlier, January visitor volume and gaming revenues were down was down by 7.0 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively. Residential and commercial construction permits rose in January. Reno-Sparks employment fell by 300 jobs (0.2 percent) from December 2010 to December 2011, and took a further decline in January. The Reno-Sparks unemployment rate rose from 12.4 percent in December to 13.0 percent in January, mostly as the result of seasonal factors. Driven by strong gains in consumer spending and inventory investment, national economic conditions improved in fourth quarter. Nevada’s tourism, hospitality, and gaming industries continued to grow.