Last Friday the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its quarterly advance estimate GDP report—while it details economic growth in the previous quarter (January through March 2012) it’s called advance because not all the data is in yet and the reports at the end of May and June may revise the numbers significantly. You can check out the press release here, but we’re excited about some of the news and feel it’s worth highlighting here on our blog.
In Q1, according to the advance estimate, the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.2% annualized rate. That’s only right about average growth, if not below average for the American economy in good times. Indeed, it was slower than the previous quarter and also below analyst expectations.
However, it wasn’t all bad news, and there were a few hints that the primary drivers of economic growth are picking up speed. More than 70% of the U.S. economy is made up of one segment: personal consumption expenditures. The famed American consumer accounts for the majority of our economic activity, and came out swinging in the first quarter of 2012. While real personal consumption expanded at a 2.1% rate in Q4 2011, the increase for Q1 2012 came in at a 2.9% rate. And while growth in sales of durable goods (those are items like cars that we expect a consumer to keep for more than 3 years) maintained their strength, the real growth was in nondurable goods and services, which saw growth of 2.1% and 1.2% respectively, against 0.8% and 0.4% in Q4. This means that consumers are by and large speeding up their purchases of both long-term assets, but also willing to spend more on short-term goods and services.
Now that the American consumer is starting to look up, business will be next to begin taking risks. As an entrepreneur, you know, it’s time to plan now for what risks will provide the best reward.