On an annualized basis, the U.S. recorded GDP growth in the fourth quarter of last year that slightly beat economists’ expectations, according to newly available data from the federal government.
The recorded rate of increase was 2.9 percent, which was slightly down from the 3.2 percent rate seen in the third quarter but above economists’ expectations (originating with Dow Jones) of just 2.8 percent. Both the third and fourth quarters’ readings were above the drops in GDP recorded in the first and second quarters of last year, which in turn followed monumental recovery from the economic upheaval associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fourth quarter of last year, consumer spending was up 2.1 percent, slightly below the 2.3 percent increase in that category recorded for the previous quarter. A significant boost to GDP in the fourth quarter was represented by government spending.
Elsewhere, there are also other economic metrics available that show positive signs, including the persistently low rate of new claims for unemployment assistance per week. Data also recently circulated on the unemployment rates seen in December of last year in individual states, and 35 states — alongside Washington, D.C. — recorded drops in those rates from the same month in the year prior. States including Alaska and Pennsylvania also saw their lowest individual rates ever recorded since that individualized data collection began in the 1970s. The rate of inflation is also down, as reflected by an overall 0.1 percent drop in prices last month according to numbers from the federal Labor Department. Numbers from the same department showed the rate of increase in hourly earnings for all workers and just those in production and non-supervisory roles outpacing the rate of inflation.
For the latter category, the recorded jump in incomes was 0.5 percent, although there were complications in the rate of weekly earnings in connection to declining lengths of workweeks and still drops recorded from the prior year. The inflation and income numbers reflect changes in December from just the prior month. Throughout the roughly two years of the Biden administration so far, the president and his team have engaged on initiatives from solving delays in the supply chain for goods shipped to U.S. shores to supporting the job market with federal backing for efforts in infrastructure and clean energy. The Biden administration also released some of what was held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is a national stockpile, with the ambition of helping push down prices for gas. Gas prices weigh significantly on some federal measurements of overall inflation rates.