The “second” estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2018 showed growth at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, down by 0.1 percentage point from the previous estimate of 2.3 percent. The downward revisions reflected smaller private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, and net exports, which were partly offset by a larger nonresidential fixed investment than previously reported. The unemployment rate dropped for the second consecutive month to 3.8 percent, the lowest since April 2000. Retail sales in April posted the second straight monthly rise, up by 0.2 percent, which shows consumer spending rebounding from weak growth earlier this year. April housing starts increased strongly by 10.5 percent year-over-year, and seasonally adjusted housing prices in the United States also continued to increase. The above target inflation and a tightening labor market may signal four interest rate hikes by the Fed in 2018.
The Nevada economy posted robust economic activity based on the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment added 4,300 jobs in April. Taxable sales in March gained slightly, up by 0.4 percent, year-over-year, but up 24.3 percent month-over-month. Gasoline sales (in gallons) decreased by 1.6 percent during the same period. April gaming revenue robustly rose by 7.6 percent year-over-year. Total air passengers climbed by 1.8 percent year-over-year.
Clark County experienced favorable signals in local economic activity. Seasonally adjusted employment added 1,600 new jobs from March to April. April visitor volume to Clark County was relatively flat compared to last year with only a 0.03 percentage point decline. Las Vegas, however, experienced a 0.1 percent increase, ending the 10 consecutive months of year-over-year losses. Total McCarran Airport passengers and gaming revenue rose by 3.1 and 8.1 percent, respectively, during the same period. Clark County taxable sales in March experienced a yearly gain of 2.3 percent, while gasoline sales for March dropped by 2.4 percent year-over-year. 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 800 jobs from March to April and was up by 4.1 percent from last year. The unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent in April. March taxable sales for Washoe and Storey Counties continued a yearly loss of 8.8 percent due to a weak performance in Storey County. April visitor volume fell by 3.3 percent compared to a year ago. Residential housing permits in April declined slightly by 1.8 percent compared to last year.
Stephen M. Miller, Director, Jinju Lee, Economic Analyst, UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research