U.S. Has Record 10th Straight 1st Quarter With GDP Growth Less than 3%

By Terence P. Jeffrey | April 28, 2016 | 12:27 PM EDT

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - After finishing a record tenth-straight year with less than 3-percent growth in real Gross Domestic Product in 2015, the United States has started 2016 with a record tenth-straight first quarter in which real GDP grew at an annual rate of less than 3 percent, according to the “advance” estimate of first quarter GDP published today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The BEA’s advance estimate of real GDP for the first quarter of 2016 showed real GDP growing at an annual rate of 0.5 percent.

Since 1948--the earliest year for which BEA has estimated the annual rate of growth in real GDP for the first quarter of the year--there has never been a year in which real GDP grew by as little as 0.5 percent in the first quarter and then the economy rebounded enough to see real GDP grow by 3.0 percent or better for the entire year.

In the 68 years from 1948 through 2015, there were 37 years when real GDP grew by 3.0 percent or more, according to the BEA’s data. But the last such year was 2005, when it grew by 3.3 percent.

That year—2005--real GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.3 percent in the first quarter, while real GDP was on its way to growing by 3.3 percent for the year.

The next year—2006—when the annual rate of growth in real GDP hit 4.9 percent in the first quarter was the last time the annual rate of growth in real GDP exceeded 3 percent in the first quarter of a year.

In 2007 through 2016, the annual rate of growth in real GDP has never hit 3.0 percent in the first quarter of the year. During that ten-year stretch, the highest it went in any first quarter was 2012, when it hit 2.7 percent.

Among the 37 years from 1948 onward when real GDP grew by 3.0 percent or better, there was only one year when it grew by 3.0 percent or better after growing at an annual rate of less than 1.0 percent in the first quarter.

That was 1979, when real GDP grew at an annual rate of 0.8 percent in the first quarter, according to BEA, and then grew by 3.2 percent for the year.

There have been two other years—1978 and 2000—when real GDP grew at an annual rate of less than 2.0 percent in the first quarter and then rebounded to grow by more than 3.0 percent for the year. In 1978, real GDP grew at annual rate of 1.4 percent in the first quarter then grew by 5.6 percent for year. In 2000, it grew by 1.2 percent in the first quarter and 4.1 percent for the year.

The BEA notes that the “advance” estimate of first quarter GDP it released today is based on incomplete data and will be revised. “The Bureau emphasized that the first-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency,” said the BEA release.

According to the release, the average revision between an “advance” estimate of quarterly real GDP and the “latest” estimate is -0.1 percent.

The “advance” estimate for the annual rate of growth in real GDP in the first quarter of 2015--which was released on April 29 of last year--was 0.2 percent. On July 30, 2015, when BEA published its revised estimate of the annual rate of growth in real GDP for the first quarter of 2015, it was 0.6 percent.

In 2014, the advanced estimate of real GDP for the first quarter--published on April 30, 2014--was 0.1 percent. In the revised estimate for the first quarter of 2014--published July 30, 2014--BEA said real GDP decreased by 2.1 percent.


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