The “second” estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2021 grew 6.6 percent at an annual rate, revised up slightly by 0.1 percent from the “advance” estimate. The strong growth in the second quarter largely reflected a strong surge in consumer spending, which was boosted by significant injections of federal relief money. The leisure and hospitality employment sector, which exhibited a strong average monthly gain of 350,000 jobs for the last six months, did not budge at all, implying a large impact of the delta variant. In addition, government education employment declined by 27,000 despite the reopening of schools as the COVID-19 pandemic distorted the normal seasonal buildup and layoff patterns. Retail sales in July experienced a worse-than-expected loss of 1.1 percent from last month with a sharp drop of 4.1 percent in auto and truck sales due to the shortage of semiconductor chips. The most recent data indicate that the resurgence of COVID cases has slowed the speed of economic recovery.
Nevada’s economic activity posted positive signals based on the most recent monthly data. The unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent from 7.8 percent. July gaming revenue jumped substantially and recorded its highest level, $1.36 billion, up by 13.9 percent month-over-month, extending a five-month streak of $1 billion or more. June taxable sales also hit a record high, up by 10.0, 30.7, and 22.9 percent from a month, one year, and two years ago, respectively. June gasoline sales in gallons remained 2.5 percent higher than two years ago.
Clark County also displayed robust signs in its local economic activity. Seasonally adjusted employment gained 6,500 jobs in July. July gaming revenue soared by 14.5 and 89.7 percent, respectively, month-over-month and year-over-year, benefiting from a 30.0 percent monthly gain in the Las Vegas Strip. July visitor volume and total McCarran Airport passengers also experienced strong recovery, up by 11.0 and 9.0 percent, respectively, from last month. July residential permits fell by 15.4 percent year-over-year.
Washoe County also exhibited strong signals in its local economic activity. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment added 500 jobs in July, but the unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percent to 4.9 percent. June taxable sales experienced a substantial monthly gain of 28.2 percent. Although July visitor volume contracted by 4.8 percent from two years ago, total air passengers climbed 1.4 percent over the same period. July residential permits rose by 22.1 and 4.3 percent, respectively, month-over-month and year-over-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.