The fourth-quarter acceleration was led by an upturn in exports, as well as accelerations in inventory investment and consumer spending, the BEA said.
During the last three months of 2021, COVID-19 cases resulted in continued restrictions and disruptions in operations in some parts of the country.
“Government assistance payments in the form of forgivable loans to businesses, grants to state and local governments, and social benefits to households all decreased as provisions of several federal programs expired or tapered off,” the BEA said.
The increase in private inventory investment was led by retail and wholesale trade industries, while the decrease in federal government spending primarily reflected a decrease in defense spending on intermediate goods and services.
Current‑dollar GDP increased 14.3% at an annual rate, or $790.1 billion, in the fourth quarter to a level of $23.99 trillion. In the third quarter, GDP increased 8.4%, or $461.3 billion.
The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 6.9% in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 5.6% in the third quarter.
Overall, real GDP increased 5.7% in 2021, in contrast to a decrease of 3.4% in 2020.