The third estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2015 was revised upward again from the second estimate of 1.0 percent to a 1.4 percent annualized growth rate. This revision mainly reflects an increase in consumer spending, which is partly offset by a downward revision of private inventory investment. The stronger dollar, cheap oil and a weaker global economy all contributed to a slower U.S. domestic economy in the fourth quarter. Although the U.S. housing price decreased for the month, housing starts increased strongly by 5.2 and 30.9 percent compared to last month and last year, respectively. The U.S. stock market recovered its losses from the beginning of this year.
The Nevada economy posted a significant pick-up in economic activity. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 6.2 to 5.9 percent from January to February, the lowest level since April 2008. Although January taxable sales disappointed with only 0.2 percent year-over-year growth, gasoline sales (in gallons) increased 1.8 percent year-over-year thanks to a cheaper gasoline price. Total air passengers continued its strong year-over-year growth, up by 8.8 percent in February, and gaming revenue experienced an 8.0 percent yearly increase.
The most recent data on the Clark County economy generally continue to signal a strong recovery in economic activity. The unemployment rate fell from 6.2 to 5.7 percent because of a smaller civilian labor force in February compared to January 2016. Total McCarran passengers and visitor volume in February rose 8.9 and 5.5 percent, respectively, on a year-over-year basis. Gaming revenue in February jumped substantially higher by 8.3 percent from a year earlier, while January taxable sales and gasoline sales increased by 0.8 and 3.2 percent, respectively, from January 2015. Residential housing permits significantly exceeded their levels from last year by 50.2 percent. Commercial permits experienced both monthly and yearly gains, but they still remained at a low level.
For Washoe County, somewhat mixed signals emerged. The Reno-Sparks unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in February, the same level as just before the recession. Taxable sales for January increased by 2.4 percent year-over-year, while gasoline sales in gallons decreased 2.4 percent over the same period. Gaming revenue, airline passenger volume, and visitor volume in February posted strong year-over-year increases of 8.6, 14.9, and 7.8 percent, respectively. Residential housing permits fell significantly by 41.1 percent year-over-year, and commercial building permits fell and remained low.