The “third” estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2017 grew at a 2.1 percent annualized rate, up by 0.2 percentage point from the “second” estimate. According to more complete source data, consumer spending boosted real GDP more than expected. U.S. nonfarm employment added a less-than-expected 98,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate, nevertheless, dropped to 4.5 percent from February to March. February retail sales continued a strong 5.7 percent year-over-year gain. February housing starts increased by 6.2 percent, thanks to the largest gains in single-family residential permits since the recession.
The Nevada economy posted robust economic activity based on the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment gained 3,100 jobs in February. The unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent, the lowest since November 2007. Total personal income in 2016 posted the strongest growth since 2007, up by 5.9 percent. Taxable sales in January posted a substantial gain, up by 11.8 percent year-over-year. Gaming revenue and total air passengers in February decreased by 4.5 and 2.5 percent, respectively, from a year ago, not only because of the “Chinese New Year” in February last year but also because February 2017 had one less day.
The Clark County economy exhibited more mixed signals on its economic outlook. The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.1 from 4.9 percent in February. According to the recent Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Clark County experienced the largest percentage average weekly wage rise in the third quarter of 2016 among the large counties in the U.S., up by 12.2 percent (or up by 103 dollars) from last year, mainly caused by a substantial wage increase in the leisure and hospitality industry. January taxable sales jumped by 10.4 percent year-over-year, while gasoline sales were up by 1.3 percent from last year. Gaming revenue and visitor volume in February decreased by 4.3 and 5.5 percent, respectively, from last year. Residential housing permits and commercial permits in February decreased substantially by 58.2 and 32.6 percent, respectively, from last year.
Washoe County also experienced mixed signals for its local economy. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment added 300 jobs in February, but was up by 3.5 percent from last year. Taxable sales in January increased robustly by 5.5 percent from a year ago, while gasoline sales fell by 1.3 percent during the same period. February gaming revenue continued to decrease by 6.7 percent from a year ago. Visitor volume in February also contracted by 1.9 percent from last year.
Stephen M. Miller, Director, Jinju Lee, Economic Analyst, UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research