The “second” estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2017 grew at a 1.9 percent annualized rate, remaining unchanged from the “advance” estimate. According to more complete source data, consumer spending increased more strongly than previously thought, but increases in state and local government spending and nonresidential fixed investment did not rise as much as initially expected. U.S. nonfarm employment added a more-than-expected 235,000 jobs in February, while January job gains were revised up by 11,000. The unemployment rate edged down to 4.7 percent, and the labor participation rate rose for the third month in a row. January retail sales surged by 5.6 percent from last year, the largest year-over-year jump in five years, while auto sales in January decreased by 1.6 percent year-over-year. January housing starts posted a strong 10.5 percent gain compared to a year ago, and the housing price index continued its increase for 11 consecutive months. The Fed will probably raise its benchmark rate three times in 2017, as the most recent data signals a strengthened U.S. economy.
The Nevada economy posted strong economic activity based on the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment gained 1,000 jobs in January. The annual benchmark revisions drove the monthly payrolls in 2016 upward by an average of 10,400 jobs. Taxable sales and gasoline sales (in gallons) in December also experienced robust increases, up by 6.2 and 3.5 percent, respectively, from last year.
The Clark County economy also exhibited highly favorable signals on its economic outlook. Seasonally adjusted employment added 4,400 jobs from November to December. Visitor volume in January increased by a healthy 9.4 percent year-over-year, and total McCarran passengers in January rose by 3.5 percent over the same period. January gaming revenue recorded its highest value since February 2013, up by 14.3 percent from a year ago. Residential housing permits and commercial permits started the year on a strong positive note, increasing by 31.6 and 39.1 percent, respectively, from a year ago.
Washoe County experienced positive signals for its local economy as well. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment lost 1,100 jobs in December, but was up by 3.3 percent from last year. Taxable sales in December increased substantially by 19.2 percent from a year ago, while gasoline sales rose by 4.6 percent during the same period. January gaming revenue fell by 7.0 percent from a year ago, while visitor volume increased strongly by 6.7 percent year-over-year. Finally, 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