The “third” estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter of 2019 grew at an annual rate of 2.1 percent. Overall, strong consumer spending primarily drove real GDP growth in the third quarter, and weaker business investment and imports slowed real GDP growth. U.S. nonfarm employment added a less-than-expected 145,000 jobs in December. The employment for October and November was also revised down, reporting a combined loss of 14,000 jobs. As a result, total nonfarm employment added 2.1 million jobs in 2019, down from a gain of 2.7 million in 2018. The unemployment rate remained at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. Average hourly earnings growth in December dropped to 2.9 percent year-overyear despite a tight labor market. Retail sales in November increased by 3.3 percent from last year. Housing starts in November continued a strong year-over-year growth of 13.6 percent. The latest readings show that the U.S. economy will continue its modest expansion with some progress on China trade talks.
The Nevada economy experienced generally positive signals with the release of the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment added a strong 5,800 jobs in November, recording the fourth fastest yearly growth of 2.6 percent after Utah, Idaho, and Texas.
Clark County posted mixed signals in local economic activity. Seasonally adjusted employment gained 5,600 jobs in November, accelerating its year-over-year growth rate to 2.7 from last month’s 1.7 percent. November visitor volume and total McCarran Airport passengers increased by 0.7 and 2.2 percent, respectively, from last year. November gaming revenue slipped by 3.4 percent year-over-year. October taxable sales climbed strongly by 6.7 percent from last year. Residential housing permits/units in November plummeted by 48.9 percent from a year ago, which partly reflected the slowed processing time in some jurisdictions due to understaffing according to Home Builders Research.
Washoe County also displayed mixed economic signals. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment gained 700 jobs in November, up by 4.0 percent from last year. October taxable sales and gasoline sales for Washoe and Storey Counties experienced year-over-year gains of 2.6 and 0.8 percent, respectively. November total airport passengers were up by 0.7 percent from last year. November visitor volume and gaming revenue, however, declined by 0.4 and 0.5 percent, respectively, from a year ago.
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.