The “third” estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2018 was revised downward by 0.4 percentage points to 2.2 percent at an annualized rate compared to the “initial” estimate. The total nonfarm employment in January and February was revised up, which resulted an additional gain of 14,000 jobs than previously reported. Retail sales in February continued to post a weaker yearly gain of 2.2 percent. The Fed will not likely increase the federal fund rate this year as they pledged more “patience” with future interest hikes due to economic uncertainty. The recent inverted yield curve between the 3-month and 10-year Treasury and weak global indicators bring up a concern of a possible recession, but consumer and business confidence remained high.
The Nevada economy posted mixed signals with the most recent data releases. The unemployment rate, however, ticked down to 4.3 percent. February gaming revenue experienced a continued year-over-year loss of 0.6 percent, which mainly reflected reduced activity in Washoe County. January taxable sales were up strongly by 7.7 percent from a year ago despite a recent weak trend in U.S. retail sales. February Nevada air passengers also climbed by 1.6 percent compared to last year.
Clark County experienced generally positive signals in its economic activity relative to last month. The unemployment rate fell sharply by 0.3 percentage points to its lowest level of 4.2 percent in February since the Great Recession. February visitor volume in Clark County increased by 1.3 percent year-over-year, while gaming revenue remained relatively flat with a gain of 0.4 percentage points during the same period. Total McCarran Airport passengers in February rose by 1.8 percent year-over-year. January taxable sales climbed robustly by 6.6 percent from a year ago. Residential housing permits/units in February experienced a year-over-year gain of 3.2 percent despite the recent housing market slowdown.
Washoe County posted somewhat mixed economic signals. The unemployment rate edged down to 3.3 percent. January taxable sales for Washoe and Storey Counties rebounded after two consecutive months of yearly decline, up strongly by 11.8 percent year-over-year. February visitor volume dropped sharply by 9.8 percent year-over-year. February gaming revenue also experienced a yearly loss, down by 6.6 percent over the same period. February total airport passengers, however, exceeded the level from last year by 3.4 percent. Residential housing permits in December experienced a year-over-year loss of 8.0 percent.
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.