The “advance” estimate for fourth quarter 2013 shows U.S. real gross domestic product increasing at an annualized rate of 3.2 percent, below the 4.1 percent growth experienced during third quarter 2013. Personal consumption expenditures, non-residential fixed investment, net exports and state and local government spending made positive contributions. Federal government spending and residential investment made negative contributions. The unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent. Housing starts were up year-over-year, and housing prices continued to rise. Auto/truck sales and retail sales were also up year-over-year. Consumer confidence and consumer sentiment rose for the most recent data. The Kansas City Financial Stress Index remained near its long-run average in December, which suggests no financial headwinds. Nonetheless, commercial paper outstanding is not yet showing much growth.
The Nevada economy evidenced mostly positive signals for the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted, statewide employment increased by 2,200 (0.2 percent) jobs from November to December, and it was up 1.8 percent year-over-year. Taxable sales continued to show strong growth, up 2.1 percent from last year. Total air passengers were up 3.8 percent over the same time period. Gaming revenue also experienced gains for the month, up 9.6 percent from December 2012.
For Clark County, seasonally adjusted employment rose from November to December by 200 jobs and was up 2.0 percent year-over-year. Total passengers at McCarran Airport were up 4.1 percent from a year earlier. December visitor volume was down 2.2 percent from a year ago. Gaming revenue was 11.8 percent higher in December than a year earlier. Clark County’s taxable sales for November were 5.7 percent above those from a year earlier.
The most recent data show mostly positive signals for Washoe County as well. Seasonally adjusted, Reno-Sparks’ employment increased by 400 (0.2 percent) jobs from November to December. Total employment is up from a year ago, by 1.3 percent. Compared to a year earlier, December visitor volume was up 5.3 percent. Total air passengers were up 0.9 percent from December 2012. Gaming revenues for December were down 5.3 percent from a year earlier. Residential construction remained relatively constant in December, while commercial construction permits remained low.
The U.S. economy experienced moderate growth for fourth quarter 2013. Consumer spending and most measures of the housing market are showing continued improvement. A weak national economy is affecting Nevada in the form of slowing growth in tourism. Despite the slowing tourism, taxable sales continue to make gains at the state level. Nevada’s employment is also showing relatively stable year-over-year gains.
Ryan T. Kennelly, Economic Analyst
UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research