GDP Update Finds Little Change in Economic Picture of Last 3 Years

GDP-Annual Update 2016 ChartThe Bureau of Economic Analysis released its annual update of GDP and related statistics today, adjusting its picture of U.S. economic activity during the past three years to reflect newly available data.

The broad outline of U.S. economic growth during these recovery years changed only modestly from what the Bureau of Economic Analysis had previously reported.

From 2012 to 2015, real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 2.2 percent, the updated estimates show. That’s 0.1 percentage point higher than previously published estimates.

For 2013, the percent change in real GDP was revised upward by 0.2 percentage point, due in part to stronger inventory investment and exports in the newer data. The GDP rate for 2014 was unchanged. The rate was revised up 0.2 percentage point for 2015, partly because of updates to state and local government spending and residential fixed investment.

BEA’s annual updates incorporate new and more comprehensive source data that weren’t available when earlier estimates for the same time periods were released.

This year’s update also improves seasonal adjustments for several GDP components. BEA is in the midst of a three-step plan to address the issue of “residual seasonality” in some data.

Seasonal adjustment smooths out fluctuations that occur at about the same time each year, such as holiday shopping or the wintertime decline in construction. That makes it easier to see other economic patterns in the data.

Because they were woven together with numerous updates and additions to source data, the effects of the seasonal adjustment changes alone can’t be isolated and quantified at this point.

Full results of the 2016 annual update are available on the “National” section of BEA’s website.

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