The “advance” estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2022 unexpectedly fell by 1.4 percent at an annual rate, the first decline since the COVID pandemic recession. The decline largely reflected a decrease in government spending and a huge trade deficit caused by a drop in exports and a surge in imports. U.S. nonfarm employment posted a robust gain, adding 428,000 jobs in April. The U.S. unemployment rate in April, however, remained unchanged at 3.6 percent despite a fall in the labor force participation rate. Retail sales in March rose by 0.7 percent month-over-month amid escalating inflation. Although auto and truck sales in April rose strongly by 6.6 percent from last month, they continued their double-digit year-over-year contraction due to continued supply chain disruptions. To control inflation, the Federal Reserve increased the federal funds rates by 0.50 percent to a target range of 0.75 to 1 percent in May and placed additional future 50 basis point increases on the table.
Nevada’s economic activity posted positive signals based on the most recent data. Seasonally adjusted statewide employment added 4,900 jobs in March. The March unemployment rate fell to 5 percent. March gaming revenue reached its second highest level of all time thanks to an impressive 21.7 percent month-over-month increase and continued to top $1 billion for a record 13 consecutive months. February taxable sales remained 20.8 percent higher than last year’s level.
Clark County also displayed favorable signs in its local economic activity from pent up demand for travel. Seasonally adjusted employment in March added 1,300 jobs. The unemployment rate in March dropped from 5.6 to 5.4 percent. Total Harry Reid Airport passengers and visitor volume for March experienced strong recoveries, up by 27.8 and 27.3 percent, respectively, month-over-month. March gaming revenue hit a record high, up substantially by 24.1 percent month-over-month. February taxable sales soared by 26.1 percent year-over-year. March residential permits, however, declined slightly by 0.9 percent from last year despite continued strong demand.
Washoe County also exhibited highly positive signals in its local economic activity. The Reno-Sparks seasonally adjusted employment experienced a strong gain of 1,300 jobs in March. The unemployment rate fell to an all-time low of 2.6 percent. February taxable sales gained by 7.4 percent year-over-year. March gaming revenue also increased by 1.9 percent from last year. March residential permits rose strongly up by 37.5 percent year-over-year.
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.