The “advance” estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter of 2017 grew strongly at a 3.0 percent annualized rate. The main positive contributors of economic growth did not change from the last quarter. Consumer spending and business investment, including inventories, remain robust, and net exports and federal government spending further strengthened from their second quarter readings. U.S. nonfarm employment rebounded by adding 261,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate also dropped to a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. September retail sales growth accelerated to 4.4 percent year-over-year thanks to a strong rebound in auto and truck sales. September housing starts also increased robustly by 6.1 percent from a year ago, and housing prices in the U.S. continued to increase. The Federal Reserve kept the federal funds rate on hold at its October meeting, while a December hike is expected by most forecasters.
Nevada posted generally positive signals in its economic activity based on the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment added a weak 200 jobs in September. Taxable sales in August climbed by 3.3 percent year-over-year, which is its slowest pace with the first yearly loss in Storey County in 2017. August gasoline sales (in gallons), however, increased at the fastest pace year-over-year in 2017, up by 5.3 percent. September gaming revenue rose by 3.3 percent from last year.
For Clark County, somewhat mixed signals emerged with the latest data. Seasonally adjusted employment lost 500 jobs from August to September. September visitor volume for Clark County continued its year-over-year decrease, down by 2.2 percent, while total McCarran passengers increased slightly, up by 0.4 percent. September gaming revenue, however, increased by 2.8 percent from a year earlier. Clark County taxable sales for August climbed by 3.7 percent from a year ago, and gasoline sales grew by 4.8 percent during the same period. June residential housing permits gained 11.0 percent year-over-year.
Washoe County also experienced mixed signals in its economic activity. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment added 2,000 jobs and rose by 2.5 percent from last year. Yearly growth in taxable sales for Washoe and Storey Counties for August decelerated to 1.8 percent due to a large loss in Storey County. September gaming revenue increased robustly by 8.1 percent year-over-year. Air passengers and visitor volume also gained 6.0 and 4.0 percent, respectively, during the same period. Residential housing permits in September decreased by 4.6 percent from last year, and commercial permits showed disappointing 6 units, which is its lowest value since December 2008.
Stephen M. Miller, Director, Jinju Lee, Economic Analyst, UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research