The “advance” estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2018 rose at an annual rate of 2.3 percent, a slower pace than the previous three consecutive quarters of about 3 percent. The first quarter real GDP growth, however, exceeded the first-quarter growth in recent years. The increase in real GDP largely reflected a moderate growth in business investment, while consumer spending showed its lowest growth since the second quarter of 2013. U.S. nonfarm employment added 164,000 jobs in April. The disappointing increase of 103,000 jobs in March was revised up by 32,000. The unemployment rate dropped to an 18-year low of 3.9 percent after six consecutive months at 4.1 percent. In spite of a sign of labor shortages, average hourly earnings growth declined slightly from last month to 2.6 percent year-over-year. March housing starts climbed strongly by 10.9 percent year-over-year, and seasonally adjusted housing prices in the United States also continued to gain. The near target inflation and low unemployment rates weigh on the Fed’s decision to hike interest rates in June.
The Nevada economy posted robust economic activity based on the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment added 3,500 jobs in March. Taxable sales and gasoline sales (in gallons) in February increased by 3.2 and 5.2 percent, respectively, year-over-year. March gaming revenue grew by 3.4 percent year-over-year. Total air passengers climbed by 1.8 percent year-over-year.
Clark County experienced largely favorable signals in local economic activity. Seasonally adjusted employment added 3,900 new jobs from February to March. March visitor volume for Clark County continued its year-over-year loss of 0.9 percent. Total McCarran Airport passengers and gaming revenue rose by 2.2 and 3.6 percent, respectively, during the same period. Clark County taxable sales and gasoline sales for February climbed by 5.6 and 4.1 percent, respectively, compared to a year ago. November residential housing permits rose strongly by 40.8 percent year-over-year.
Washoe County posted mixed signals. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment gained 600 jobs from February to March and was up by 4.0 percent from last year. February taxable sales for Washoe and Storey Counties dropped by 8.1 percent year-over-year due to a weak performance in Storey County. March visitor volume fell by 1.4 percent compared to a year ago. Residential housing permits in March experienced a substantial year-over-year loss of 68.7 percent because of the reduced number of new multifamily residential units.
Stephen M. Miller, Director, Jinju Lee, Economic Analyst, UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research