Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 6.4% in the first quarter of 2021, according to the “second” estimate released Thursday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2020, real GDP increased 4.3%.
The second GDP estimate is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was also 6.4%. With the second estimate, upward revisions to residential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending were partly offset by a downward revision to personal consumption expenditures (PCE).
The increase in real GDP in the first quarter reflected increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by decreases in private inventory investment and exports. Imports increased (table 2).
The increase in PCE reflected increases in durable goods (led by motor vehicles and parts), nondurable goods (led by food and beverages), and services (led by food services and accommodations). The increase in nonresidential fixed investment reflected increases in intellectual property products (led by software) and in equipment (led by information processing equipment). The increase in federal government spending primarily reflected an increase in payments made to banks for processing and administering the Paycheck Protection Program loan applications as well as purchases of COVID-19 vaccines for distribution to the public. The decrease in private inventory investment primarily reflected a decrease in retail trade inventories.
Current‑dollar GDP increased 11% at an annual rate, or $566.3 billion, in the first quarter to a level of $22.1 trillion. In the fourth quarter, GDP increased 6.3%, or $324.5 billion.
The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 3.9% in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.7% in the fourth quarter. The PCE price index increased 3.7%, compared with an increase of 1.5%. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 2.5%, compared with an increase of 1.3%.