The “third” estimate for fourth quarter 2014 shows U.S. real gross domestic product increasing at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent. Compared to the “second” estimate, personal consumption expenditures increased more, but were offset by smaller changes in private inventories. Nonresidential fixed investment, residential investment, and state and local government spending also made positive contributions. Net exports and federal government spending made negative contributions. U.S. nonfarm employment experienced slightly lower gains in March, adding 126,000 jobs over February. The unemployment rate remained constant at 5.5 percent. Housing starts fell year-over-year, and housing prices experienced a slight decline. Consumer confidence rose while consumer sentiment fell for the most recent data. In addition, oil prices are at their lowest levels since the Great Recession.
The Nevada economy evidenced mixed signals with the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted, statewide employment decreased by 500 jobs from January to February, but it was up 3.1 percent year-over-year. The Nevada unemployment rate remained constant at 7.1 percent. Taxable sales continued to show strong year-over-year growth, up 8.3 percent. Total air passengers were down 6.5 percent over the same time period. Gaming revenue also experienced losses for the month and was down 1.1 percent from February 2014.
For Clark County, seasonally adjusted employment rose from January to February by 3,000 jobs and was up 3.2 percent year-over-year. The Las Vegas unemployment rate remained constant at 7.0 percent. Total passengers at McCarran Airport were up 2.9 percent from a year earlier. February visitor volume was up 0.7 percent from a year ago. Gaming revenue was 1.7 percent lower than in February 2014. Clark County’s taxable sales for January were 8.9 percent above those of a year earlier. Residential construction permits increased from January to February. Commercial construction permits remained at a low level.
The most recent data show mostly positive signals for Washoe County. Seasonally adjusted, Reno-Sparks’ employment experienced an increase from January to February of 1,400 jobs and was up over a year ago, by 3.3 percent. The seasonally adjusted Reno-Sparks unemployment rate fell from 6.6 percent to 6.5 percent. Compared to a year earlier, January visitor volume was up 10.9 percent. Total air passengers were down 4.6 percent from December 2013. Gaming revenues for February were up 3.4 percent from a year earlier. Residential construction increased from January to February, while commercial construction permits remained low.
For the third straight quarter, the U.S. economy experienced growth—rebounding from a weak first quarter. Consumer spending remains strong, although some aspects of the housing market are no longer improving.
Ryan T. Kennelly
UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research