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  The First Estimate for Q3 Real GDP Growth is 33.1% at an Annual Rate
Posted Under: Data Watch • Employment • GDP


Implications:  Real GDP grew at a 33.1% annual rate in the third quarter, the fastest pace for any quarter since World War II.  Consumer spending led the sharp rebound from the Great Depression-like drop in economic activity in the second quarter, growing at a 40.7% annual rate.  The largest annualized gains in consumer spending included recreation services (+276.6%), food service & accommodations (+209.9%), transportation (+173.0%), and health care (+93.7%).  Still, real GDP and consumer spending remain noticeably below the peaks hit in late 2019, with real GDP still down 3.5% and consumer spending down 3.3%.  In other words, in spite of the massive gains in Q3, we are still a long road away from a full economic recovery.  Don't expect real GDP to hit new highs until the second half of 2021. In the meantime, it's important to note that home building increased at a 59.3% annual rate and is at a new record high, as residential builders crank up activity even in the face of lingering COVID-19 rules and restrictions.  Look for more solid growth in home building in the year ahead as some residents of center cities pursue more space and safety from crime in the suburbs in light of being cooped up in their homes due to limits on travel and gatherings (both leisure and work-related) as well as riots and looted stores.  Also, investment in business equipment soared at a 70.1% annual rate, the steepest gain for any quarter on record going back to at least 1947.  In addition, inventories, which plummeted in Q2, were roughly unchanged in Q3, resulting in a 6.6 percentage point boost to the real GDP growth rate, the largest for any quarter in 70 years.  The GDP deflator, a measure of inflation, increased at a 3.6% annual rate in Q3 and is up 1.1% from a year ago.  Nominal GDP – real GDP growth plus inflation – grew at a 38.0% annual rate in Q3 but is still down 1.8% from a year ago.  In spite of the gain in Q3, in both real activity and inflation, don't look for the Federal Reserve to shift away from its loose monetary policy anytime soon.  In other news this morning, new claims for jobless benefits fell 40,000 to 751,000.  Continuing claims for regular state benefits fell 709,000 to 7.8 million.  These figures are consistent with continued job growth in October. 

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Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2020 @ 11:31 AM • Post Link Share: 
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