The advanced estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2016 experienced an expected, but disappointing, gain of an annualized 0.5 percent. The weak growth mainly reflects a large 5.9 percent decrease in nonresidential investment. Consumer spending still continues to provide the main driver of real GDP growth, although it decelerated its upward trend in the first quarter. Recent decreases in productivity and sharp increases in employment cost raise concern amongst some economists on the future of U.S. economic growth. In addition, retail sales slowed to a 1.7 percent year-over-year growth in March. Nonetheless, U.S. housing prices increased for the month, and housing starts experienced a strong 14.2 percent year-over-year gain.
The Nevada economy showed a strong pick-up in economic activity. The adjusted statewide employment added 6,500 jobs in March, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 5.9 to 5.8 percent from February to March. Total air passengers continued its stable yearly increases by 5.8 percent in March.
The most recent data on the Clark County economy generally posted a continuing strong recovery in business activity. Seasonally adjusted employment added 3,400 jobs from February to March. But, the unemployment rate edged up to 5.9 percent in March from 5.7 percent in February because of an increase in the labor force during the same period. February taxable sales and gasoline sales rose by 3.7 and 8.2 percent, respectively. Clark County visitor volume and total McCarran Passengers earned year-over-year gains, up by 3.0 and 5.5 percent, respectively, in March. Clark County building permits continued its double-digit year-over-year growth for the third consecutive month. March residential permits and commercial permits strongly increased by 11.0 and 32.0 percent, respectively, from last year. Gaming revenue in March fell by 3.6 percent year-over-year.
Washoe County recently generated generally positive economic indicators that signal an improved economy. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment gained 2,100 jobs for the month, but the unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent in March from 4.9 percent in the prior month. Taxable sales and gasoline sales for February significantly increased by 20.5 and 5.2 percent year-over-year, respectively. Airline passengers and visitor volume in March posted strong year-over-year increases of 12.4 and 9.7 percent, respectively. Residential housing permits rose significantly by 26.0 percent year-over-year. Although commercial building increased 45.0 percent compared to a year earlier, it still remained low and volatile.