The “advance” estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter of 2020 jumped by a best-ever 33.1 percent at an annual rate, after a worst-ever decline of 31.4 percent in the previous quarter. U.S. nonfarm employment experienced a stronger-than-expected gain, adding 638,000 jobs in October. Retail sales in September rose robustly by 5.4 percent from last year. Housing starts in September also climbed strongly by 11.1 percent year-over-year thanks to all-time low mortgage rates. Although the U.S. economy has shown strong recovery boosted by fiscal and monetary stimulus, the sustainability of the recovery remains uncertain as supplemental unemployment benefits expired, which may raise the possibility of a “K-shaped” recovery.
Nevada continued to pick-up its economic activity based on the most recent monthly data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment gained 3,400 jobs in September. September air passengers and gaming revenue continued to show double-digit year-over-year declines of 60.4 and 22.4 percent, respectively. August taxable sales also contracted but posted better performance with only a 9.9 percent contraction from last year thanks to increased personal income due to the CARES Act.
Clark County posted slightly improved signals in local economic activity but still saw a much slower recovery due to its tourism-dependent economy. Seasonally adjusted employment lost 1,400 jobs in September. Total McCarran Airport passengers and visitor volume in September strongly improved compared to last month but still experienced significant year-over-year losses of 60.6 and 51.1 percent, respectively. September gaming revenue, nevertheless, was only down by 26.9 percent from last year, boosted by higher personal income due to the CARES Act. August taxable sales continued its yearly loss of 14.5 percent due to a loss in visitor volume. Residential housing permits/units in September, nonetheless, skyrocketed by 68.6 percent year-over-year thanks to the stronger-than-expected housing market performance.
Washoe County exhibited stronger monthly and annual pick-ups in local economic activity. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment gained 100 jobs in September and remained only 5.3 percent lower than the previous year. The unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent. August taxable sales continued to exceed its last year’s level by 2.1 percent amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while gasoline sales (in gallons) contracted 8.7 percent during the same period. September gaming revenue also posted a year-over-year growth of 3.4 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.