U.S. real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 3.0 percent during fourth quarter 2011, representing a substantial gain over the third-quarter rate of 1.8 percent. Consumption spending and inventory investment were particularly strong. Residential and business fixed investment slowed. Imports and government spending made negative contributions. U.S. nonfarm employment rose by only 120,000 jobs in March after three straight months in which the gains were more than 220,000 jobs per month. The unemployment rate slipped to 8.2 percent in March as labor force participation fell. Sales of existing homes slipped in February, but were 8.8 percent higher than a year earlier. Sales of new homes rose slightly from extremely low levels. The National Federation of Independent Businesses reports small businesses are having more difficulty obtaining financing.
The Nevada economy continues to show uneven signs of growth. Visitor volume took a seasonal decline in February but was 4.5 percent higher than a year earlier. Gaming revenue was 5.7 percent higher in February than a year earlier. Taxable sales were up by 4.8 percent in January above a year earlier. According to the establishment survey conducted by Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), Nevada’s employment declined in February. Nonetheless, the statewide unemployment rate decreased from 12.9 percent in January to 12.1 percent in February because DETR’s household survey showed employment gains.
Clark County’s economy is expanding at a slightly faster pace than the state’s. Compared to a year earlier, visitor volume and gaming revenue for February were up by 5.2 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. Taxable sales for January were 3.5 percent above those for a year earlier. Residential construction permits rose from January to February, and commercial construction permits remained at a low level. DETR’s establishment survey shows Las Vegas metropolitan employment fell in February. Nonetheless, the region’s unemployment rate fell from 13.0 in January to 12.2 percent in February—mostly because DETR’s household survey showed employment gains.
Washoe County’s economy showed some improvement. Compared to a year earlier, February visitor volume was only down 2.4 percent. Gaming revenues were up by 8.1 percent over the same period. Residential and commercial construction permits fell in February. According to DETR’s establishment survey, Reno-Sparks employment rose by 400 jobs (0.2 percent) from January to February. The Reno-Sparks unemployment rate fell from 13.0 percent in January to 12.2 percent in February because DETR’s household survey for the region showed stronger employment gains than its establishment survey.