Archive for the 'GDP' Category



GDP Growth Slows in First Quarter

GDP_4_30_14 Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014, according to the “advance” estimate released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2013, the growth rate was 2.6 percent.

First-quarter GDP highlights
The slowdown in real GDP growth reflected:

  • A downturn in exports. Exports of industrial supplies and materials as well as foods, feeds, and beverages declined after increasing in the fourth quarter.
  • A downturn in business investment. Spending on transportation equipment fell after rising significantly in the fourth quarter. Spending on computers and peripherals also turned down.
  • A larger decrease in inventory investment. Inventory investment by retail trade companies (mainly motor vehicles dealers) declined significantly after an increase in the fourth quarter.
  • A slowdown in consumer spending, mainly in nondurable goods, notably clothing and footwear as well as food and beverages. These movements were partly offset by faster growth in utilities and healthcare.

In contrast, federal government spending turned up, and imports declined after increasing in the fourth quarter.

Personal income and personal saving
Real disposable personal income (DPI)–personal income adjusted for inflation and taxes–increased 1.9 percent in the first quarter, compared with 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. Personal saving as a percent of current -dollar DPI was 4.1 percent, compared with 4.3 percent.

First-quarter prices
GDP_Prices_4_30_14Prices of goods and services bought by U.S. residents rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, after rising 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Both energy prices and food prices turned up.

Excluding food and energy, prices increased 1.4 percent in the first quarter after rising 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

Read the full report

New Commerce Data Supports Better Economic Decision-Making by Businesses and Policymakers

This week, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released two new data products that will help American businesses, consumers, policymakers and academia gain important information about the performance of the U.S. economy.

Yesterday, BEA released inflation-adjusted estimates of personal income for states and metropolitan areas, which are being released for the first time as official statistics. Americans looking to move or take a job anywhere in the country can now compare these inflation-adjusted incomes to better understand how their personal income may be affected by a job change or move. In addition, businesses looking to relocate or establish new facilities can use this data to get a comprehensive and consistent measure of differences in the cost of living and the purchasing power of consumers nationwide.

Also for the first time, BEA today released quarterly estimates of the economic activity generated by 22 industries – including manufacturing, construction, finance, transportation, retail, health care, educational services, and the arts. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data – one of our government’s most valuable data resources – shows how different industries helped or hindered the U.S. economy’s growth in a given quarter. These new statistics will enable industries in all sectors to better measure their contributions to GDP and understand and identify emerging trends more quickly. This economic intelligence can help make businesses more competitive and innovative, as well as guide their decisions about investing and hiring.

In fact, Ken Simonson, the chief economist at the Associated General Contractors of America, finds that “As construction gradually rebounds from a historic downturn, it is especially useful to have timely estimates of how the sector is contributing to overall economic growth. Having data on all major industries will provide a valuable indicator of where demand for future construction will come from. Getting historical data will help identify possible turning points in growth and interconnections between sectors.”

In addition, David Huether, Senior Vice President of Research at the U.S. Travel Association, states that “By regularly producing Gross Domestic Product by Industry on a quarterly basis, the Bureau of Economic Analysis is taking a historic step forward and proving once again the vital role that the BEA plays in measuring the U.S. economy. For the first time ever, economists, researchers, policy makers and the general public will now be able to understand in a comprehensive fashion how different industries are performing on a high-frequency basis and contributing to our country’s economic output.”

The Commerce Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda’ prioritizes unleashing more data and making it more accessible so it can catalyze the emergence of new businesses, products, and services. Commerce data enable start-ups, move markets, and power both small and multi-billion dollar companies.

BEA’s new data products are the latest example of how Commerce is working to produce innovative, timely and relevant statistics that serve as a crucial tool for policy-makers at the local, state and national level.

New BEA Data Proves Valuable for Retail Industry

Jack_KleinhenzGuest blog post by Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D., Chief Economist, National Retail Federation

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.

The National Retail Federation closely monitors economic conditions in order to gauge the health of the overall industry and the consumers who represent nearly 70% of the national GDP. By having quarterly updates on the economic performance of 22 sectors, we will be better served when representing retailers and their needs as it relates to economic forecasts, labor markets and job reports, and much more.

Having higher frequency GDP data by industry will be extremely valuable in assessing current economic conditions and shaping economic forecasts. The new data series should provide reliable information on the changes in growth for specific industries, and offer insights into whether the growth is well-above, well-below, or average relative to overall GDP growth. In the past, the annual data could not provide perspective on the fits and starts in marketplace activity, so I am encouraged that a more detailed picture is now more accessible.

No modeling effort can accurately capture the dynamics and complexity of the U.S. economy nor consider all the variables. The difference now is that we don’t have to wait a year to find out how different industries are performing and contributing to the United States’ economic growth. This data will add to our toolkit for forecasting both short and long-term trends. Additionally, these quarterly reports will provide a better barometer of when an industry might be poised for a surge or a drop – otherwise known as turning points – that can possibly be a signal for the direction of the larger U.S. economy.

All in all, the access to this new statistical product will add to more informed decisions by all who need reliable and timely data on the performance of the economy.