US real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 6.9% in the fourth quarter, following an increase of 2.3% in the third quarter, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. The data is based on an advance estimate.
The economy grew 5.7% for the full year, a stark improvement from a 3.4% decline in 2020 and the strongest pace since 1984.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had anticipated a gain of 5.5%, CNBC reported.
The increase in fourth quarter GDP reflected the continued economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the BEA.
“In the fourth quarter, Covid-19 cases resulted in continued restrictions and disruptions in the operations of establishments in some parts of the country,” it stated. “Government assistance payments in the form of forgivable loans to businesses, grants to state and local governments, and social benefits to households all decreased as provisions of several federal programs expired or tapered off. The full economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the fourth quarter because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.”
USA Today reported a record 6.4 million jobs were generated in 2021 compared to a loss of 9.4 million jobs the prior year as the pandemic shuttered businesses and kept Americans from their normal activities. But the health crisis made 2021 a volatile comeback year, and that’s expected to continue, at least through the early part of this year.