The “advanced” estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2017 increased at a 1.9 percent annualized rate. Although the real GDP growth rate decelerated compared to last quarter’s 3.5 percent increase, the underlying categories showed more strength. Consumer spending stayed robust and business investment finally moved out of a negative or slower growth scenario. Residential investment rebounded remarkably after two consecutive quarters of declines. Net exports, which experienced an unusual surge with soybean export in the third quarter, declined substantially and contributed most negatively to real GDP growth. December retail sales posted the second largest year-over-year jump in 2016, up by 4.1 percent. Auto sales in December rebounded after four straight months of yearly declines, up by 5.1 percent. Consumer confidence for January remained at a decade high level based on anticipated delivery on political pledges, while the economic policy uncertainty index increased due to ongoing economic policy unpredictability. The Fed decided not to raise its benchmark rate at the recent meeting and will possibly keep the rate unchanged in March admist uncertainty.
The Nevada economy experienced continued pickup in its economic activity based on the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment gained 3,400 jobs in December, which led to 2.6 percent job growth in 2016.
The Clark County economy exhibited favorable signals on its economic expansion. Seasonally adjusted employment added 4,400 jobs from November to December. Visitor volume in December increased by 4.4 percent year-over-year. Total McCarran passengers in December rose by 1.0 percent compared to a year earlier. December gaming revenue declined by 4.3 percent year-over-year. But gaming revenues grew by 1.0 percent overall in 2016. Taxable sales and gasoline sales also climbed by 4.2 and 2.3 percent, respectively, relative to last year. Residential housing permits and commercial permits continued to display impressive gains, up by 80.5 and 42.9 percent, respectively, from a year ago.
Washoe County experienced positive signals for its local economy. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment lost 1,100 jobs in December, but was up by 3.3 percent from last year. Taxable sales and gasoline sales in November increased by 5.3 and 4.6 percent, respectively, from November 2015. Different from Clark County, December gaming revenue climbed strongly by 14.3 percent from a year ago, while visitor volume slightly decreased by 0.7 percent during the same period. Residential housing permits decreased by 3.3 percent from a year ago.
Stephen M. Miller, Director, Jinju Lee, Economic Analyst, UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research