The advance estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2015 reports a weak 0.7 percent annualized growth rate. Overall, the U.S. economy increased its size 1.8 percent year-over-year in 2015, down from 2.5 percent year-over-year in 2014. U.S. nonfarm employment continued to grow by adding a less-than-expected 151,000 jobs in January 2016. Even though the U.S. economy has been strongly affected by domestic consumption, the negative combination of a weak global economy (negative spillovers from Chinese economic slowdown), a strong dollar, and a cheap oil price send a mixed signal as to future U.S. economic growth. The stock market suffered with significant value losses, and oil prices hit the lowest since 2003 due to stronger dollars and oversupply.
Based on most recent measurements, the Nevada economy posted a significant pick-up in economic activity. Although seasonally adjusted statewide employment lost 3,700 jobs in December. November taxable sales grew by 6.2 percent on a year-over-year basis, and gasoline sales (in gallons) increased by 4.3 percent from November 2014. Total air passengers continued a strong year-over-year growth, up by 9.5 percent. Gaming revenue experienced both monthly and yearly gains, up 4.0 and 3.3 percent, respectively. Overall, except for gaming revenue, the fourth quarter experienced negative effects.
Most recent year-over-year data also indicate a continued strong recovery in Clark County. Although seasonally adjusted employment lost 3,000 jobs in December. Total McCarran passengers and visitor volume in December rose 9.1 and 3.1 percent, respectively, from a year earlier. Clark County’s taxable sales and gasoline sales for November exceeded their levels from last year by 6.0 and 4.4 percent, respectively. Residential permits continued a significant year-over-year rise by 29.4 percent from December 2014. Even though commercial permits more than doubled compared to last year’s level, they still remained at a low level. Gaming revenue increased year-over-year by 3.7 percent.
Washoe County also experienced positive signals from year-over-year data except for the construction sector. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment added 1,100 jobs for the month. December visitor volume and total air passengers noticeably increased by 8.8 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, on a year-over-year basis. Taxable sales for November also posted a strong increase of 9.7 percent year-over-year, while gaming revenue for December showed a weak growth of 0.1 percent from a year earlier. Residential housing permits fell by 6.9 percent year-over-year, and 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.