The “third” estimate of the growth rate of U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter of 2018 fell by 0.1 percent to an annual rate of 3.4 percent compared to the “second” estimate. The revision reflected smaller-than-expected personal consumption expenditure and net exports, which a larger-than-expected private inventory investment partly offset. The overall picture of economic growth remained the same. Robust consumer spending and business inventory investment, which was boosted by the recent tax cut, mainly contributed to the strong economic expansion in the third quarter. Government spending also positively affected real GDP growth, while residential investment and net exports contributed negatively. Average hourly earnings growth slowed disappointedly despite strong job gains, up by 3.2 percent year-over-year. Retail sales in November experienced a gain, up by 4.2 percent year-over-year. The Fed held the federal funds rate unchanged at a range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent in its first meeting of 2019 and indicated that the Fed will move more patiently with future interest rate hikes.
Clark County experienced generally positive signals in its economic activity compared to last month. December visitor volume in Clark County climbed by 1.7 percent compared to last year, which resulted in a reduction of 0.9 percent from 2017 to 2018. December gaming revenue, nevertheless, rose by 5.0 percent year-over-year, which led to revenue of more than $10 billion in 2018 for the first time since the Great Recession. Total McCarran Airport passengers in December increased by 2.0 percent compared to last year, which brought to Las Vegas a record-breaking 49.7 million passengers in 2018. November taxable sales experienced a significant gain of 12.2 percent year-over-year. Residential housing permits/units in November decreased substantially by 37.0 percent compared to a year earlier after a strong rebound last month.
Washoe County exhibited slightly negative economic signals. November taxable sales for Washoe and Storey Counties fell by 7.7 percent year-over-year due to continued weak performance in Storey County. December visitor volume and gaming revenue decreased by 6.2 and 1.4 percent, respectively, compared to last year. December total airport passengers exceeded the level from last year by 4.4 percent. Residential housing permits in December experienced a year-over-year loss of 8.0 percent.
Editor’s Note: The partial federal government shutdown delayed the publication of some data series reported in this column.
Stephen M. Miller, Director
Jinju Lee, Economic Analyst
UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas or the Nevada System of Higher Education.