The third estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter of 2015 reports a 2.0 percent annualized growth rate, revised down from the 2.1 percent rate for the second estimate. Strong consumer spending still remained a main contributor to U.S. economic growth in the third quarter. The continuing Chinese economic slowdown disrupted the U.S. stock market and world economy. Oil prices hit their lowest levels since 2004, mainly due to the stronger dollar and oversupply. Housing starts and housing prices experienced both monthly and yearly gains in November, while auto and truck sales remained significantly above their respective levels from last year. Retail sales also continued a moderate growth throughout the year. A stronger dollar should continue as the Fed decided to raise the federal fund rate gradually until the end of 2016 up to 1.375 percentage points.
By most recent measures, the Nevada economy posted a significant pick-up in economic activity. Although seasonally adjusted statewide employment lost 6,700 jobs in November, the unemployment rate fell from 6.6 percent to 6.5 percent from October to November. October taxable sales grew by 5.5 percent on a year-over-year basis, and gasoline sales (in gallons) increased 2.8 percent from October 2014. Total air passengers and gaming revenue rose strongly, 10.5 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively, on a year-over-year basis.
Most recent data also indicate continued recovery in Clark County. Although seasonally adjusted employment lost 1,600 jobs in November, it rose by 2.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. Total McCarran passengers and visitor volume in November rose 10.2 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively, from a year earlier. Clark County’s taxable sales and gasoline sales for October were above their levels from last year by 5.5 and 2.9 percent, respectively. Residential permits rose significantly by 45.4 percent from a year ago, while commercial permits remained at a low level. Gaming revenue increased year-over-year by 8.4 percent.
Washoe County also experienced positive signals. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment fell by 0.6 percent for the month, but increased by 2.6 percent compared to November 2014. The majority of jobs lost occurred in the leisure and hospitality and construction sectors. November visitor volume decreased 0.3 percent, while total air passengers increased strongly by 12.5 percent from last year. Taxable sales for October continued double-digit yearly growth, up by 10.4 percent. Gaming revenue for November increased 3.4 percent from a year earlier. Residential housing permits rose significantly by 89.2 percent on a year-over-year basis, but commercial building permits remained low.
Stephen M. Miller, Director, Jinju Lee, Economic Analyst, UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas or the Nevada System of Higher Education.