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November 2013
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December 2013

GDP news gets better yet

The third (and final) GDP estimate for the third quarter revised growth up yet again, this time to 4.1%.  This figure indicates that growth was stronger in the third quarter than at any time since the end of 2011. The graph below shows quarterly growth rates since 2003.
GPD2013.IIIc
Notice that 4.1% is larger than all but one quarter since before the Great Recession.  These are the kinds of growth rates we need if the economy is to truly recover from the Great Recession.  Finally, the revisions indicate that more of the growth came from consumption than previously thought.  The table below shows how each of the four categories of GDP spending contributed to overall growth. GDPTable2013.III

The takeaway:

  1. GDP growth in the third quarter was higher than all but one quarter since 2006.
  2. The new data shows greater growth in consumption.

Unemployment rate drops to 7%

The latest jobs report shows the unemployment rate dropped to 7.0% in November, the lowest level in five years.  In addition, the economy added 203,000 more jobs.

Unemp1113

The last time the unemployment rate was this low was in the worst period of the Great Recession.  During the fourth quarter of 2008, the unemployment rate climbed from 6.1% to 7.3%, on its way to 10% by the end of 2009.  During 2009's bleak fourth quarter, real GDP contracted by more than 8%. 


GDP growth revised up to 3.6%

This week's GDP report, the second GDP estimate for the 2013 third quarter, brings good news, though perhaps not as good as it seems.  The report revised the growth rate up to 3.6% (the first estimate was 2.8%).  Quarterly growth data since 2003 is graphed below.

GDP2013-3b
There is nothing wrong with 3.6%.  After all, that is the best single quarter since the end of 2011.  On the other hand, the big growth came to business inventories which contributed almost half of the GDP growth of the period (1.68 of the 3.6%). 

Here is the breakdown of the contributions from the four major components of GDP:

  • Consumption: +0.96%
  • Investment: +2.49%
  • Government: +0.09%
  • Net Exports: +0.07%

Remember that private inventory is part of investment.