US GDP Current Statistics (2013 to Present)

What Made the Economy Grow 3.5 Percent in Q3 2018

GDP statistics
••• Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The current U.S. GDP growth rate is 3.5 percent. That means the United States economy grew at a rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018. The third quarter is July through September.

Economic growth greater than the ideal growth rate of between 2-3 percent. The ideal rate is fast enough to provide enough jobs, but not so fast it will create inflation or an asset bubble. If growth continues at this rate, it will lead to a boom and bust cycle.

Current U.S. gross domestic product is $20.659 trillion. That means all the people and companies in the United States produced at a rate of $20.659 trillion in the past 12 months. 

Revision Schedule

The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases the GDP report at the end of each month. Each quarterly report has the following three releases.

  1. Advance Estimate: Released one month after the quarter ends. It's often wildly different from the Third Estimate, simply because all of the trade and business inventory data is not in yet.
  2. Second Estimate: Comes out two months after the quarter. It's more realistic.
  3. Third Estimate: Released three months after the quarter. Usually only tweaks the Second Estimate. 

The BEA has also made the following revisions:

  • - All estimates since 1929.
  • May 25, 2010 - All estimates since Q1 2007.
  • - All estimates since Q1 2003.
  • - All estimates since Q1 2009.
  • - All estimates since 1929 based on improved estimates of intellectual property values and pensions.
  • July 30, 2014 - All estimates since Q1 2011, and some estimates since 1999.
  • July 30, 2015 - All estimates since Q1 2012, and some estimates since 1976.
  • July 29, 2016 - All estimates since Q1 2013.
  • July 29, 2017 - All estimates since Q1 2014.
  • July 29, 2018 - All estimates since 1929 based on improved estimates.
  • The next revision will be July 29, 2019. It will cover all estimates since 2016.

For each quarter below, you'll see the most recent estimates first. That's followed by prior estimates, which are in parentheses with the year the BEA revised them. Admittedly, this presentation is a little confusing, but it's important to see how the data continually changes. A record of these revisions isn't readily available anywhere else.


Q1: 2.2 Percent

  • Advance - The largest component of GDP is consumer spending. It contributes 70 percent to the economy, and it rose 1.1 percent. That's typical for the first quarter, because it's right after the holiday shopping season. Spending on durable goods fell 3.3 percent. That's for long-lasting things like automobiles, furniture, and large appliances. Spending on non-durable goods rose 0.1 percent. Spending on services rose 2.1 percent. Business investment rose 7.3 percent. Investment in equipment increased 4.7 percent, while commercial construction rose a robust 12.3 percent. Most of that is apartment buildings. Exports rose 4.8 percent. Most of U.S. exports is oil and commercial aircraft.  Imports only increased 2.6 percent, subtracting from GDP. Trade estimates are based on just two months of data. All other estimates are based on three months of data. As the dollar's value weakens, it makes imports more expensive. Federal government spending rose 1.7 percent, boosted by a 1.8 percent increase in military spending. State and local spending rose 0.8 percent.
  • Second - The BEA revised its estimate down to 2.0 percent. It based the revision on new data on personal consumption expenditures and inventory investment.
  • Final - The BEA revised its estimate up to 2.2 percent.

Q2: 4.2 Percent

  • Advance - Consumer spending rose 4 percent. Business investment fell 0.5 percent. A 13.3 percent increase in commercial construction was offset by a 1.1 percent drop in home building. Exports rose 13.3 percent. Analysts report that many businesses shipped goods early to avoid tariffs. As a result, they expect a drop in exports in the third quarter.rose 4.8 percent. Government spending rose a moderate 2.1 percent.
  • - The BEA revised its estimate up to 4.2 percent. Commercial real estate construction was a little higher than originally estimated.
  • - The BEA confirmed its estimate of 4.2 percent.

Q3: 3.5 Percent

  • Advance - Growth was driven by consumer spending, which rose 4 percent. Business spending was also robust, rising 12 percent. It was driven by a 13.3 percent increase in intellectual property products, like patents. On the other hand, commercial construction decreased 7.9 percent, and home building dropped 4 percent. Exports fell 3.5 percent thanks to Trump's trade war. But imports rose 9.1 percent. This will probably worsen the U.S. trade deficit. Government spending rose 3.3 percent.

2017 2.2 Percent (2.3 percent in 2017 estimate)

Q1: 1.8 Percent (was 1.2 percent in 2017 revision, 1.4 percent in 2017 original estimate.)

  • Advance - The economy grew 0.7 percent. Consumer spending increased 0.3 percent. Durable goods fell 2.5 percent. Non-durable goods rose 1.5 percent. Services rose 0.4 percent. Business investment rose 4.3 percent, thanks to a 22.1 percent increase in commercial construction. Exports rose 5.8 percent.  Imports rose 4.1 percent. Government spending fell 1.7 percent, thanks to a 4.0 percent drop in military spending. State and local spending also fell 1.6 percent. 
  • Second - The BEA revised its estimate upwards to 1.2 percent. New data revealed increases in two areas. First, personal consumption was better than original estimates. So was construction of commercial real estate. State and government spending was down, but not as much as in the advance estimate.
  • Final - The BEA revised its estimate up again to 1.4 percent. The uptick was from new data on personal consumption. 

Q2: 3.0 Percent (3.1 percent in 2017 estimate)

  • Advance - The economy grew 2.6 percent. Consumer spending rose 2.8 percent. Spending on durable goods rose 6.3 percent. Spending on non-durable goods rose 3.8 percent, while services rose 1.9 percent. Business investment rose 2.0 percent. That was due to a 5.2 percent increase in commercial construction.  Exports rose 4.2 percent.  Imports rose 2.1 percent. Government spending rose 0.7 percent, thanks to a 5.2 percent increase in military spending. State and local spending fell 0.2 percent.
  • Second - The BEA revised its estimate up to 3.0 percent. Increases in consumer spending and business investment were higher than originally estimated. That's based on new data that came in over the month. 
  • Final - The BEA revised its estimate up to 3.1 percent. The slight uptick was based on better-than-expected increases in consumer spending as the final data came in.

Q3: 2.8 Percent (was 3.2 percent in 2017 estimate)

  • Advance - The economy grew 3.0 percent. Consumer spending rose 2.4 percent. Spending on durable goods increased an astonishing 8.3 percent. Some of that was due to replacement of the 1 million vehicles destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Spending on non-durable goods rose 2.1 percent, while services rose 1.5 percent. Business investment rose 6.0 percent. Investment in equipment offset a 5.2 percent decline in commercial construction. Exports rose 2.3 percent. Imports fell 0.8 percent, adding to GDP.  Government spending fell 0.1 percent, despite a 2.3 percent increase in military spending. State and local spending fell 0.9 percent. 
  • Second - The growth estimate was 3.3 percent. Updated data revealed that three areas were higher than the advance estimate. These areas were nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and private inventory investment.
  • Final - Personal consumption expenditures were lower than anticipated, making growth 3.2 percent.

Q4: 2.3 Percent (2.9 Percent in 2017 estimate)

  • Advance - Consumer spending rose 3.8 percent. Spending on durable goods increased an astonishing 14.2 percent. Spending on non-durable goods rose 5.2 percent, while services rose 1.8 percent. Business investment rose 3.6 percent. Investment in equipment was 11.4 percent, while commercial construction was 1.4 percent. Exports rose 6.9 percent. Imports rose 13.9 percent. Federal government spending rose 3.5 percent, boosted by a 6.0 percent increase in military spending. State and local spending rose 2.6 percent.
  • Second - The growth estimate was 2.5 percent. Updated data revealed that two areas were higher than the advance estimate. These areas were personal consumption spending, and private inventory investment.
  • Final - Personal consumption and private inventory were even higher than anticipated. As a result, growth was 2.9 percent.

2016: 1.6 Percent (1.5 percent in 2017 revision, 1.6 percent in 2016 estimate)

Q1: 1.5 Percent (0.6 percent in 2017 revision, 0.8 percent in 2016 revision, 1.1 percent in 2016 original estimate)

  • Advance - The economy grew 0.5 percent. Consumer spending rose 1.9 percent, thanks to a 2.7 percent increase in purchases for services. It was dragged down by a 1.6 percent decrease in spending on durable goods. Business investment fell 3.5 percent, thanks to an 8.6 percent drop in equipment purchases. Housing construction rose 14.8 percent, but commercial construction fell 10.7 percent. The strong dollar hurt business exports. They declined 2.6 percent.  Imports, which subtract from GDP, rose 0.2 percent. Government spending rose 1.2 percent, thanks to a 2.9 percent increase in municipal outlays. Federal spending dropped 1.6 percent, due to a 3.6 percent decline in military spending. 
  • Second - The BEA revised the estimate up to 0.8 percent. 
  • Third - After analysis of all incoming data, the BEA revised its estimate up to 1.1 percent. Exports rose more than initially expected. 

Q2: 2.3 Percent (2.2 percent in 2017 revision, 1.4 percent in 2016 estimate)

  • Advance - The economy grew 1.2 percent. Consumer spending rose a healthy 4.2 percent. That was driven by a 3.0 percent increase in purchases for services. Consumers also spent 8.4 percent more on durable goods and 6.0 percent more on non-durable goods, such as clothing and groceries. Business investment fell 9.7 percent, due to a 3.5 percent drop in equipment purchases. Housing construction fell 6.1 percent, and commercial construction fell 7.9 percent. Exports rose 1.4 percent, while imports 0.4 percent. Government spending fell 0.2 percent, thanks to a 1.3 percent drop in municipal outlays. Federal spending dropped 0.2 percent, due to a 3.0 percent decline in military spending.
  • Second - The BEA revised the estimate down to 1.1 percent. 
  • Third - The BEA revised the estimate up to 1.4 percent. Business spending on plants and equipment was higher than the original estimate.

Q3: 1.9 Percent (2.8 percent in 2017 revision, 3.5 percent in 2016 estimate)

  • Advance - The economy grew 2.9 percent. Consumer spending increased 2.1 percent. It was driven by a 9.5 percent rise in spending on durable goods. Purchases of services rose 2.1 percent, while non-durable goods spending fell 1.4 percent. Business investment rose 3.1 percent, due to a 5.4 percent rise in commercial construction. Exports rose 10 percent.  Imports rose 2.3 percent. Government spending only rose 0.5 percent, thanks to a 0.7 percent drop in state and local spending. That was offset by a 2.5 percent increase in federal spending, including a 2.1 percent rise in military spending.
  • Second - The BEA substantially revised its estimate to a 3.2 percent growth rate. That's because better data became available. It showed that consumer spending, exports, and government spending were better than expected.
  • Third - The BEA revised its estimate up to 3.5 percent because spending was a little higher than previously estimated.

Q4: 1.8 Percent (Unchanged from 2017 revision, 2.1 percent in 2016 estimate)

  • Advance - The economy grew 1.9 percent. Consumer spending increased 2.5 percent. That makes up almost 70 percent of the economy. It was driven by a 10.9 percent rise in spending on durable goods. Shoppers took advantage of low interest rates to fund those purchases. They are feeling more confident about their economic future. Purchases of services rose 1.3 percent, while non-durable goods spending rose 2.3 percent. Business investment rose 10.7 percent, despite a 5 percent drop in commercial construction. Exports fell 4.3 percent due to a strong dollar. Imports rose 8.3 percent. Government spending fell 1.2 percent, thanks to a 3.6 percent drop in military spending. That was offset by a 2.3 percent increase state and local spending. 
  • Second - The BEA kept the growth rate at 1.9 percent.
  • Final - The BEA received new data that showed consumer spending was higher than originally thought. It revised its estimate to 2.1 percent.

2015: 2.9 Percent (Unchanged from 2017 revision, 2.6 percent in 2016 revision, 2.4 percent in 2015 estimate)

Q1: 3.3 Percent (3.2 percent in 2017 revision, 2.0 percent in 2016 revision, 0.6 percent in July 2015 revision, -0.2 percent in 2015 estimate)

  •  - Thanks to winter storms, growth was just 0.2 percent. Consumer spending was just 1.9 percent. Business spending rose 2.0 percent, with commercial building down 23.1 percent, but offset with a 1.3 percent gain in housing construction. The strong dollar walloped exports, which fell 7.2 percent. Imports only rose 1.8 percent. Government spending fell 0.85, thanks to a 0.7 percent cutback in military spending and a 1.5 percent drop in state and local spending. 
  •  - Just like the previous year, the economy contracted in the first quarter. The BEA revised the growth rate, indicating a 0.7 percent drop in U.S. output. New data came in showing that imports were higher than originally estimated.  
  • Third - Turns out the economy only shrank 0.2 percent. New data showed that exports were higher than originally thought.

Q2: 3.3 Percent (2.7 percent in 2017 revision, 2.6 percent in 2016 revision, 3.9 percent in 2015 estimate) 

  • Advance - The economy grew 2.3 percent. The largest driver was a 7.3 percent gain in consumer durable goods. Non-durable goods rose 3.6 percent, and spending on services rose 2.1 percent. These drove consumer spending up 2.9 percent. Business spending increased 0.3 percent. That's because of a 4.1 percent decline in equipment investment, and a 1.6 percent drop in commercial construction. Exports rose 5.3 percent, despite a strong dollar. Imports rose 3.5 percent. Government spending increased just 0.8 percent, thanks to a 1.1 percent drop in federal spending, including a 1.5 percent cutback in military spending.
  • Second - The BEA substantially revised the estimate up to 3.7 percent. Consumer purchases of durable goods rose 8.2 percent while non-durable goods rose 4.1 percent. Residential was up 7.8 percent while exports of goods rose 6.5 percent. Federal government spending was flat, thanks to a 0.4 percent decline in non-defense spending. 
  • Third - Consumer spending boosted growth to 3.9 percent, higher than previous estimates.

Q3: 1.0 Percent (2.7 percent in 2017 revision, 2.0 in 2016 revision, unchanged from 2015 estimate)

  • Advance - Growth was 1.5 percent. Commercial building, down 4.0 percent, was the biggest drag, and spending on business equipment fell 2.5 percent.  Military spending fell 1.4 percent. Exports only rose 1.9 percent, compared to 5.1 percent in the previous quarter. Both fell because of a strong dollar. A glut in oil inventories kept a lid on imports, which only rose 1.8 percent. Consumer spending remained strong, rising 3.2 percent. That was driven by a 6.7 percent increase in consumer durable goods, like automobiles, furniture, and appliances.
  •  - The BEA revised the estimate upward to 2.1 percent. Business spending had only fallen 0.3 percent. That's because spending on equipment rose 9.5 percent. Homebuilding was also better than in the initial estimate, rising 7.3 percent vs.6.1 percent.  
  •  - The BEA revised the estimate down a smidge, to 2.0 percent. Inventories were slightly less than originally thought.

Q4: 0.4 Percent (0.5 percent in 2017 revision, 0.9 percent in 2016 revision, 1.4 percent in 2015 estimate)

  • Advance - The economy grew 0.7 percent. Commercial construction fell 5.3 percent, and business spending on equipment fell 2.5 percent. Home building rose 8.1 percent, and consumer spending rose 2.2 percent. Exports declined 5.4 percent due to the strong dollar. Federal government military spending rose 3.6 percent. State and local government spending fell 0.6 percent.
  • Second - The BEA revised the estimate up to 1.0 percent. Additional data showed that businesses added more to inventory than originally thought. 
  •  - Growth was 1.4 percent, better than expected. New data revealed that personal consumption expenditures rose more than originally estimated. 

2014: 2.5 Percent (2.6 percent in 2017 revision, 2.4 percent in 2014 estimate)

Q1: -1.0 Percent (0.9 in 2017 revision, -1.2 percent in 2016 revision, -0.9 percent in 2015 revision, -2.1 percent in 2014 revision, -2.9 percent in 2014 estimate)

  • Advance - Scary-low growth of only 0.1 percent. Exports dropped 12 percent while business spending fell 6.1 percent. Most analysts blamed it on severe winter storms. 
  • Second - The economy contracted 1.0 percent, thanks to a massive downward revision in inventory. That partly makes sense, since stores bought too much inventory for what turned out to be a weak holiday season. However, business investment was down a whopping 11.7 percent, driven by a 7.5 percent downturn in commercial real estate, a 5 percent decline in housing, and a 3.1 percent drop in equipment. Exports fell 6 percent, the biggest decline in at least four years. The only good news is that personal consumption of services rose 4.3 percent. Many wondered if it signaled another recession. 
  • Third - More data revealed what many had feared. GDP fell by a whopping 2.9 percent, the biggest pull-back in five years. Another contraction like this and we are in a recession. Consumer spending grew just 1 percent while residential real estate investment fell 4.2 percent. Businesses drew down excess inventories, which subtracted 1.7 percent from growth.

Q2: 5.1 Percent (4.6 percent in 2017 revision, 4.0 percent in 2016 revision, 4.6 percent in both earlier estimates)

  • Advance - Most analysts don't believe the astounding 4.0 percent growth estimate, and expect it to be revised downward in the next two revisions. The BEA based it on a rebound in almost all areas from the severe downturn in the first quarter. The upturns were estimates in inventory investment, exports and imports estimates. 
  • Second - The BEA revised the growth rate up to 4.2 percent. The uptick was due to better data that shows commercial real estate grew a bit more than the original estimate. Inventories did not increase as much.
  •  - Growth was revised up to a whopping 4.6 percent, based on more complete data that came in during August. These areas include: fixed investment, inventory, exports, and government spending.

Q3: 4.9 Percent (5.2 percent in 2017 revision, 5.0 percent in 2016 revision, 4.3 percent in 2015 revision, 5.0 percent in 2014 estimate)

  • Advance - There was a 3.6 percent increase in economic growth. However, it got a big boost from a 16 percent increase in defense orders. Exports also helped, rising 11 percent. This more than outweighed the 1.7 percent increase in imports. Boeing's August orders for commercial aircraft also contributed, sending durable goods up 7.2 percent. Last but not least, consumer spending on durable goods rose 7.2 percent as well. 
  • Second - The BEA revised growth to 3.9 percent, based on more current data. It showed that businesses didn't cut inventory as much as initially thought.
  • Third - The economy actually grew 5.0 percent, thanks to huge increases in military spending (16 percent), business equipment (11 percent), and personal consumption of durable goods, mostly autos (9.2 percent). 

Q4: 1.9 Percent (2.0 percent in 2017 revision, 2.3 percent in 2016 revision, 2.1 percent in 2015 revision, 2.2 percent in 2014 estimate)

  • Advance - The economy grew 2.6 percent. That was below estimates, but behind the headline was very positive news. Personal consumption expenditures rose 4.3 percent, the highest in four years. Business spending rose 7.4 percent, with gains in every segment except equipment (down 1.9 percent). Exports rose 2.8 percent but were offset by an 8.9 percent rise in imports, a 4-year high. The biggest drag was a 12.5 percent drop in military spending, which is to be expected after the 16 percent gain last quarter.  
  • Second - The BEA revised its growth estimate down, to 2.2 percent. Most of the revision came from a revision in business spending, which only rose 5.1 percent. Consumer spending was revised down to 4.2 percent.
  • Third - Growth estimates remained at 2.2 percent. Business spending was revised down to 4.7 percent. This was offset by a revision upwards of consumer spending, to 4.4 percent. Exports grew 4.5 percent, but this was more than offset by import growth of 10.4 percent. Federal government spending fell 7.3 percent, dragged down by a 12.2 percent cut in military spending. 

    2013: 1.8 Percent (1.7 percent in 2017 revision, 1.5 percent in 2015 revision, 2.2 percent in 2014 revision, 1.9 percent in 2013 estimate) 

    Q1: 3.6 Percent (2.8 percent in 2016 revision, 1.9 percent in 2015, 2.7 percent in 2014, 1.1 percent in 2013 revision, 1.8 percent in 2013) 

    • Advance - A solid 2.5 percent growth rate. The three main pistons of the economic engine contributed. First and foremost, housing construction solidly expanded in response to rising home prices and demand, something not seen in seven years. Second, consumer spending showed confidence. Third, farmers replenished their silos after the 2012 drought. 
    • Second - Estimate revised down only slightly to 2.4 percent. 
    • Third - The BEA lowered its estimate to 1.8 percent. Additional consumer spending data came in much lower than it initially thought. That was because cold weather in March dampened retail sales.

      Q2: 0.5 Percent (0.8 percent in 2016 revision, 1.1 percent in 2015, 1.8 percent in 2014,  2.5 percent in 2013)

      • Advance - Exports and housing drove 1.7 percent growth.
      • Second - Better export data revised growth up to 2.5 percent.
      • Third - Estimate remains at 2.5 percent. Growth was driven by exports and residential construction and occurred despite everything that Washington threw at it (sequestration and tax hikes). 

      Q3: 3.2 Percent (3.1 percent in 2016 revision, 3.0 percent in 2015, 4.5 percent in 2014, 4.1 percent in 2013)

      • Advance - 2.8 percent growth was because businesses stocked up on inventory. Consumer spending only increased 1.5 percent, the lowest in five years. This low rate of growth shows that most people aren't willing to spend a lot. This is confirmed by the slowdown in Halloween sales and projected softness for the Black Friday holiday shopping season. Most of the growth was from durable goods.  Government spending rose only .2 percent, driven mostly by state and local governments. Sequestration slowed federal spending by 1.7 percent. While some of the cutbacks were in defense, down .7 percent, most were in non-defense, which fell 3.3 percent. This all happened before the government shutdown. Exports rose 4.5 percent, while imports rose just 1.9 percent. 
      • Second - The 3.6 percent growth rate was driven primarily by stores stocking up for the holiday shopping season, adding $16.5 billion, more than in the entire first half of the year. New home construction rose 14.6 percent while commercial construction increased 12.3 percent. Business spending on other equipment was actually down 3.7 percent, signaling low confidence.
      • Final - The 4.1 percent growth rate won't last. The boost was from stores stocking up on inventory for a retail season that disappointed. Consumer spending was sluggish, thanks to poor job growth.

        Q4: 3.2 Percent (4.0 percent in 2016 revision, 3.8 percent in 2015, 3.5 percent in 2014, 2.6 percent in 2013)

        • Advance - Healthy growth of 3.1 percent despite the government shutdown. Most of the consumer spending was for automobiles, washing machines and other big-ticket items financed by low-interest rate loans. Spending on these durable goods increased an astounding 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter. The stock market rose on the positive growth news, especially since the shutdown subtracted .3 percent growth in October. Another huge drag on growth was housing construction, which was down a whopping 9.8 percent. 
        • Second - Growth revised down to 2.4 percent. Personal consumption grew just 2.6 percent, instead of the first estimate of 3.3 percent. That is in keeping with the disappointing retail sales. Most of the decrease was from revised estimates for automobiles, washing machines, and other big-ticket items financed by low-interest rate loans. Spending on these durable goods only rose 2.5 percent, instead of the initial estimate of 5.9 percent in growth. Housing construction still showed an 8.7 percent decline.
        • Third - Revised up to 2.6 percent thanks to more complete data, which revealed that personal consumption rose 3.3 percent, (higher than last month's estimate of 2.6 percent. Construction remains a drag on growth. Housing construction was down 7.9 percent, while commercial construction fell 1.8 percent. That's not just because of cold weather -- last year at this time, home building was up 19.8 percent, while commercial construction rose 17.6 percent.