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Gross Domestic Product: First Quarter 2012 (advance estimate)

1 May, 2012


Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2011, real GDP increased 3.0 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the first-quarter advance estimate is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency. The "second" estimate for the first quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on May 31, 2012.

The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from federal government spending, nonresidential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected a deceleration in private inventory investment and a downturn in nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by accelerations in PCE and in exports.

Annual Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts
The annual revision of the national income and product accounts (NIPAs), covering the first quarter of 2009 through the first quarter of 2012, will be released along with the "advance" estimate of GDP for the second quarter of 2012 on July 27, 2012. The August Survey of Current Business will contain an article that describes the annual revision in detail.

Quarterly estimates are expressed at seasonally adjusted annual rates, unless otherwise specified. Quarter-to-quarter dollar changes are differences between these published estimates. Percent changes are calculated from unrounded data and are annualized. "Real" estimates are in chained (2005) dollars. Price indexes are chain-type measures.

Motor vehicle output added 1.12 percentage points to the first-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.47 percentage point to the fourth-quarter change. Final sales of computers added 0.05 percentage point to the first-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.12 percentage point to the fourth-quarter change.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 2.4 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.1 percent in the fourth.

Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.2 percent in the fourth.

Real personal consumption expenditures increased 2.9 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 2.1 percent in the fourth. Durable goods increased 15.3 percent, compared with an increase of 16.1 percent. Nondurable goods increased 2.1 percent, compared with an increase of 0.8 percent. Services increased 1.2 percent, compared with an increase of 0.4 percent.

Real nonresidential fixed investment decreased 2.1 percent in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of 5.2 percent in the fourth. Nonresidential structures decreased 12.0 percent, compared with a decrease of 0.9 percent. Equipment and software increased 1.7 percent, compared with an increase of 7.5 percent. Real residential fixed investment increased 19.1 percent, compared with an increase of 11.6 percent.

Real exports of goods and services increased 5.4 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 2.7 percent in the fourth. Real imports of goods and services increased 4.3 percent, compared with an increase of 3.7 percent.

Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 5.6 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 6.9 percent in the fourth. National defense decreased 8.1 percent, compared with a decrease of 12.1 percent. Nondefense decreased 0.6 percent, in contrast to an increase of 4.5 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 1.2 percent, compared with a decrease of 2.2 percent.

The change in real private inventories added 0.59 percentage point to the first-quarter change in real GDP after adding 1.81 percentage points to the fourth-quarter change. Private businesses increased inventories $69.5 billion in the first quarter, following an increase of $52.2 billion in the fourth quarter and a decrease of $2.0 billion in the third.

Real final sales of domestic product -- GDP less change in private inventories -- increased 1.6 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.1 percent in the fourth.

Gross Domestic Purchases
Real gross domestic purchases -- purchases by U.S. residents of goods and services wherever produced -- increased 2.1 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 3.1 percent in the fourth.

Disposition of Personal Income
Current-dollar personal income increased $119.6 billion (3.7 percent) in the first quarter, compared with an increase of $105.3 billion (3.3 percent) in the fourth.
Personal current taxes increased $38.6 billion in the first quarter, compared with an increase of $21.1 billion in the fourth.

Disposable personal income increased $81.0 billion (2.8 percent) in the first quarter, compared with an increase of $84.2 billion (2.9 percent) in the fourth. Real disposable personal income increased 0.4 percent, compared with an increase of 1.7 percent.

Personal outlays increased $145.9 billion (5.3 percent) in the first quarter, compared with an increase of $86.4 billion (3.1 percent) in the fourth. Personal saving -- disposable personal income less personal outlays -- was $466.0 billion in the first quarter, compared with $530.8 billion in the fourth.

The personal saving rate -- saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 3.9 percent in the first quarter, compared with 4.5 percent in the fourth. For a comparison of personal saving in BEA’s national income and product accounts with personal saving in the Federal Reserve Board’s flow of funds accounts and data on changes in net worth, go to www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/Nipa-Frb.asp.

Current-Dollar GDP
Current-dollar GDP -- the market value of the nation's output of goods and services – increased 3.8 percent, or $142.4 billion, in the first quarter to a level of $15,461.8 billion. In the fourth quarter, current-dollar GDP also increased 3.8 percent, or $143.3 billion.

BEA's national, international, regional, and industry estimates; the Survey of Current Business; and BEA news releases are available without charge on BEA's Web site at www.bea.gov. By visiting the site, you can also subscribe to receive free e-mail summaries of BEA releases and announcements.
 

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