The “advance” estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2020 experienced a strong gain of 6.4 percent at an annual rate, bringing the gap from the pre-pandemic peak to within one percent. This strong recovery was boosted by a surge in consumer spending that probably incorporated the second and third stimulus checks. In addition, government spending jumped due to the vaccination rollout as well as the $1.9 trillion stimulus package in March. U.S. nonfarm employment posted a disappointing gain of 266,000 jobs in April despite a recent strong economic recovery. The employment recovery is slower than expected as finding and retaining workers is a huge problem. Retail sales in March were up strongly by 9.7 percent month-over-month. Retail sales also skyrocketed by 27.9 percent year-over-year as the U.S. economy stalled in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Housing starts in March rebounded substantially, up by 19.4 and 37.0 percent, respectively, from last month and last year. The most recent data indicate that the U.S. economy shows signs of stronger-than-expected improvement benefiting from the $1.9 trillion relief package and ongoing vaccination efforts.
Clark County displayed strong signs in its local economic activity. Seasonally adjusted employment added 4,400 jobs in March. Gaming revenue jumped significantly by 41.4 and 63.4 percent, respectively, from a month and a year ago and is 1.2 percent higher than the level from March 2019. Total McCarran Airport passengers and visitor volume in March also soared both month-over-month and year-over-year but remained lower than pre-pandemic levels, decreasing by 41.5 percent from March 2019. February taxable sales recovered strongly, exhibiting only 0.9 percent lower than its level from last year. Residential housing permits/units in March also continued its sturdy year-over-year gain of 22.9 percent. The local economy is gaining strong momentum, boosted by ongoing vaccination efforts as well as the federal stimulus money. Potential viral mutations may provide a significant headwind, however, as the Clark County economy largely depends on tourism.
Washoe County exhibited favorable signals in its local economic activity. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment gained 700 jobs in March and remained only 1.9 percent lower than last year’s level. February taxable sales were up strongly by 15.0 percent year-over-year. March gaming revenue climbed substantially by 19.0 percent from March 2019. March residential permits/units rose strongly by 21.6 percent from last year.
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.