Economy Watch: Data Show Middling Growth For Economy

Despite the slow growth of the U.S. economy, consumer spending increased more than previously estimated in 2015.
Table via the Bureau of Labor Statistics' report, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment— February 2016

Table via the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment— February 2016

Despite fears that the economy is headed for a 2016 recession, the pattern of growth remains middling, not overly sluggish. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported on Friday that real U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to its “third” (and final) estimate. In the third quarter, real GDP grew at an annualized 2 percent. So 2015 ended weak, but not in a tailspin, according to that metric.

With this final estimate for the Q4, the general picture of economic growth remains largely the same, according to the BEA. However, personal consumption expenditures—people out spending their money, which most affects demand for retail space—increased more than previously estimated.

In other so-so news about the economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that 22 states had unemployment rate decreases in February compared with January, while eight states suffered increases and 20 states and the District of Columbia saw no change. Like the nudge upward in the GDP numbers, the report wasn’t bad, but when that many states stay the same or slide into more unemployment, that isn’t good either.

Despite the energy slump, South Dakota enjoyed the lowest jobless rates in February, along with the non-energy economy of New Hampsire: 2.7 percent each. Alaska had the highest rate, 6.6 percent, closely followed by Mississippi and West Virginia, coming in at 6.5 percent each. Among the biggest states with the largest CRE markets, California’s rate was a middling 5.5 percent; Florida was 4.9 percent, exactly the national average; and New York came in at 4.8 percent. Again, not robust, but not a crash either.