Overview of Bureau of Economic Analysis

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1. The current economic situation of the US compared with five years ago shows that the US was entering recession then, and is coming out of downturn now. The Bureau of Economic Analysis publishes GDP data. On a yearly basis, 2008 saw a decline of 0.3% based on chain 2005 dollars. The slump accelerated in 2009 with a decline of 3.1%. Since then, the economy has grown 2.4%, 1.8% and 2.2% respectively. Quarterly data shows a decline of 1.8% in Q1 2008, and Q4 2012 (the latest data available) shows an increase of only 0.1%. While the slow rate of growth is less than ideal, the economy is nevertheless performing better than it was at this point five years ago. Two other major indicators come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate in March 2008 was 5.1% and today it is 7.7%. The 5.1% figure is around normal for that period of time, while today's figure is an improvement over the levels of the past four years. It is worth considering that unemployment is a lagging indicator, but even with that it is clear that the economy is doing more poorly today than it was in early 2008. Another indicator is the inflation rate. The current CPI is 0.0% for the month of January. In March of 2008 it was 0.4%. As monthly readings go, the 0.4% rate is fairly high, while 0.0% is below the Fed's target rate. The inflation figure for early 2008 is a little bit misleading, as that period saw a run-up in fuel prices. The core CPI number might be better to look at for that period.
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