Throughout 2011, Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the agency charged with keeping a finger on the economy’s pulse, has been hard at work measuring an ever-changing economy. During the year the Bureau instituted new methodologies, new techniques, released new Web-based analytical tools, and made continual improvements to the national accounts to keep pace with the changing economy. 2011 proved to be a stronger year for the economy, for the performance of U.S. companies and the spending behavior of American consumers. Fortunately, there have been some improvements on all three fronts over the last year.
BEA’s Four Big Numbers to highlight in 2011 are:
- $15,180,900,000,000 (That’s $15 trillion). That’s the total size of the U.S. economy as of the 3rd quarter of 2011 on an annualized basis.
- $1,977,400,000,000 (That’s $1.9 trillion). That’s the value of corporate profits as of the 3rd quarter of 2011. Profits of corporations in the United States climbed to the highest level on record stretching back to 1947.
- 2.3 percent. That’s the real growth rate of consumer spending in the 3rd quarter of 2011. Consumer spending, the goods and services which we all buy on a daily basis, accounts for roughly 70 percent of all economic activity in the United States. The growth rate is the fastest seen so far this year. Consumer spending on services–like haircuts, sports tickets and going out to bars and restaurants–grew by nearly 3 percent, the strongest pace since 2006.
- 15.6 percent growth in business investment in equipment and software. This rate of investment is at its strongest pace in a year, and this is crucial as these investments are critical in supporting economic recovery and driving growth.