GDP Revisions Show Milder Recession, Slower Recovery

Sarah Vanderbilt | July 27, 4:15 pm
Economic Affairs

According to a preliminary estimate released this morning, GDP grew by only 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year, largely due to constrained consumer spending.

As it does every July, the Bureau of Economic Analysis also released revisions to its GDP data going back three years using sources that were not available at the time of the original releases, such as the Census Bureau's annual survey of manufacturers or local spending data that is released on a two-year time lag.

The revisions show that during the recession, real GDP did not contract as much as was thought, declining by only 3.1 percent in 2009 rather than the previously reported 3.5 percent. But the post-recession expansion was also weaker than expected; real GDP growth in 2010 was revised down from 3.0 percent to 2.4 percent. Taken together, these two trends cancelled each other out, resulting in an unchanged 1.4 percent growth rate between the fourth quarter of 2008 and the fourth quarter of 2011.

Hover on the graph to see data points by quarter, both as originally reported and as revised.

About the Data

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports GDP on a quarterly basis, providing three estimates for each quarter: advance, second and third. This morning’s news release on the advance estimate for the second quarter of 2012 can be found here. Detailed tables, including pre-revised figures, are available here.