The U.S. economy continues to show signs of slow growth. Revised data show U.S. real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 1.9 percent during first quarter 2012, a substantial slowing from the fourth-quarter rate of 3.0 percent. Consumer spending drove most of the gains with business fixed investment, residential investment and inventories also making contributions. Government spending and net exports made negative contributions. U.S. nonfarm employment rose by only 80,000 in June after poor showings of 77,000 jobs in May and 68,000 in April. The unemployment rate held steady at 8.2 percent in June. More favorably, housing prices and sales of new homes rose in May. A lack of supply limited sales of existing homes. Both consumer sentiment and consumer confidence slipped in June.
The Nevada economy shows evidence of uneven growth. The Nevada unemployment rate decreased from 11.7 percent in April to 11.6 percent in May. Visitor volume was 1.8 percent higher in May than a year earlier.
Clark County’s economy mostly shows signs of growth. Seasonally adjusted, the region’s employment rose by 2,300 jobs (0.3 percent) from April to May. The Las Vegas unemployment rate fell from 12.3 percent in April to 12.2 percent in May. Compared to a year earlier, visitor volume was up by 2.1 percent in May. Nonetheless, gaming revenue was 10.2 percent lower in May than a year earlier. Taxable sales for April were 5.3 percent above those for a year earlier. Residential construction permits rose sharply in May. Commercial construction permits remained volatile at a low level.
Washoe County shows mixed signs of economic growth. Seasonally adjusted, Reno-Sparks employment rose by 500 jobs (0.3 percent) from April to May. The Reno-Sparks unemployment rate held steady at 11.5 in May. Compared to a year earlier, May visitor volume was down by 0.6 percent. Gaming revenues were down by 5.2 percent over the same period. Residential construction permits dropped in May after a sharp increase in April. Commercial construction permits remained at a low level.
The pace of national economic growth slipped during first quarter, and a number of signs—such as employment and the pace of spending—continue to indicate that relatively weak economic growth can be expected in second quarter. The most recent data suggest uneven gains in Nevada’s tourism and hospitality sectors. Most areas of the state saw increased employment in May.
Professor Stephen P. A. Brown, PhD
UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research