American real gross domestic product declined by 6.1 percent in the first quarter, according to advance estimates by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Since this is an estimate, the GDP numbers may be revised.

This was a greater decline than expected, but less than the 6.3 percent decline of the GDP in the last quarter of 2008.

Gross domestic product measures the output of goods and services produced by labor and property in the United States.

The low GDP number makes this “the worst recession in 50 years,” declared Bloomberg News. Bloomberg regularly polls economists about economic indicators such as GDP and the 71 economists they polled gave estimated declines of 2.8 to 8 percent, with the median being 4.7.

The government attributes the GDP decline to negative contributions from:

  • exports
  • private inventory investment
  • equipment and software
  • nonresidential structures
  • residential fixed investment

while personal consumption expenditures (for durable and non-durable goods) rose.

Automobile production directly contributed 1.36 percent of the 6.1 percent decline. In the fourth quarter, 2.01 percent of the 6.3 percent loss was due to this industry.

Also, the personal saving rate rose to 4.2 percent in the first quarter, up from 3.2 percent in the fourth.

Real GDP is reported in 2000 dollars and is inflation-adjusted.

April 29, 2009

For a revised estimate see the May 29 blog about GDP.