Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2020, real GDP increased 4.3 percent.
The GDP estimate released today 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 percent. Upward revisions to consumer spending and nonresidential fixed investment were offset by downward revisions to exports and private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were revised up.
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.
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 11.0 percent at an annual rate, or $566.3 billion, in the first quarter to a level of $22.06 trillion. In the fourth quarter, GDP increased 6.3 percent, or $324.5 billion.
The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 3.9 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter. The PCE price index increased 3.7 percent, compared with an increase of 1.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 2.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.3 percent.
Gross Domestic Income and Corporate Profits
Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 6.8 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 19.4 percent (revised) in the fourth quarter. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 6.6 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 11.6 percent (revised) in the fourth quarter.
Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments) decreased $0.2 billion in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of $31.4 billion in the fourth quarter.
Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $3.6 billion in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of $17.5 billion in the fourth quarter. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $12.4 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $48.2 billion. Rest-of-the-world profits decreased $9.0 billion, compared with a decrease of $0.7 billion. In the first quarter, receipts increased $31.0 billion, and payments increased $40.0 billion.
Updates to GDP
In the second estimate for the first quarter, real GDP increased 6.4 percent, the same rate as in the advance estimate. Upward revisions to consumer spending, nonresidential fixed investment, and residential fixed investment were offset by downward revisions to exports, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending. Imports were revised up. For more information, see the Technical Note.