skip to Main Content
BEA Logo
News
 
 


Technical Note

The tables in this note are available in an XLS spreadsheet, and the entire note is available in PDF format.

                         Technical Note
      Gross Domestic Product, First Quarter 2004 (Advance)
                         April 29, 2004

This technical note provides background information about the source data and estimating
methods used to produce the estimates presented in the GDP news release; the note also
provides some perspective on the estimates.  Additional material is available on BEA's
Web site <www.bea.gov>.  In a few weeks, the estimates will be published in BEA's
monthly journal, the Survey of Current Business.  The Survey also will provide a more
detailed analysis of the estimates ("The Business Situation").

                     Gross Domestic Product

Real GDP:  Based on data available at this time, BEA estimates that real GDP increased
4.2 percent (annual rate) in the first quarter of 2004 after increasing 4.1 percent in the
fourth quarter of 2003.  The slight acceleration in real GDP growth reflected a deceleration
in imports, an upturn in government spending, and an acceleration in consumer spending
that were largely offset by decelerations in exports, in inventory investment, and in
residential fixed investment. 

Real final sales of domestic product -- GDP less change in private inventories -- increased
3.9 percent in the first quarter after increasing 3.4 percent in the fourth.  

Prices:  The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 3.2 percent in the first
quarter after increasing 1.3 percent in the fourth.  Energy prices were a major contributor
to the acceleration.  Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic
purchases increased 2.3 percent after increasing 1.5 percent.  About 0.3 percentage point
of the first-quarter increase in the index was accounted for by the pay raise for federal
civilian and military personnel, which is treated as an increase in the price index of
employee services purchased by the federal government.

Disposable personal income and personal saving: Real disposable personal income (DPI)
increased 4.3 percent in the first quarter after increasing 0.5 percent in the fourth. 
Current-dollar DPI increased 7.7 percent after increasing 1.5 percent.  The personal saving
rate -- saving as a percentage of DPI -- was 1.9 percent in the first quarter, up from 1.7
percent in the fourth quarter.


              Source Data for the Advance Estimate

The advance GDP estimate for the first quarter is based on source data that are
incomplete and subject to revision.  Three months of source data were available for
consumer spending on goods; shipments of capital equipment other than aircraft; motor
vehicle sales and inventories; manufacturing durables inventories; federal government
outlays; and consumer, producer, and international prices. Only two months of data were
available for most other key data sources; BEA's assumptions for the third month are
shown in table A.  For the third month of the quarter, the following assumptions were
made:

      . a small increase in nondurable manufacturing inventories,
      . an increase in non-motor-vehicle merchant wholesale and retail inventories,
      . an increase in imports of goods, excluding gold, and
      . an increase in exports of goods, excluding gold.


                    Annual NIPA Revision and
     Schedule for Revised Estimates of Wages and Salaries 

Annual revision:  The annual revision of the national income and product accounts,
covering the first quarter of 2001 through the first quarter of 2004, will be released along
with the "advance" estimate of GDP for the second quarter of 2004 on July 30.

Wages and salaries: Beginning on May 27, 2004, BEA will accelerate by one month
revisions to the estimates of wages and salaries for the prior quarter.  The revised
estimates will be released along with the "preliminary" GDP estimates instead of the
"final" estimates.  These revisions incorporate wage and salary tabulations of employees
covered by state unemployment insurance from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The
accelerated schedule reflects the more timely availability of the BLS tabulations.   


Brent R. Moulton 
Associate Director for National Economic Accounts 
Bureau of Economic Analysis 
(202) 606-9606
April 29, 2004


                  Table A. KEY ASSUMPTIONS FOR THE ADVANCE ESTIMATE OF GDP
                                 FOR THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2004
                                                            
For many of the key series used to prepare the advance estimate of GDP, including retail sales, unit
automobile and truck sales and inventories, manufacturers' shipments of nondefense capital goods
(other than aircraft), manufacturers' inventories of durable goods, federal defense spending, and
consumer, producer, and international price indexes, actual data are available for all months of the
quarter.

For the key series shown in this table, actual data for the third month of the quarter usually are not
available in time for inclusion in the advance GDP estimate.  BEA makes assumptions for the source
data that are not yet available; assumptions for March 2004 are shown in the last column of the table. 
For most series shown, the data for February are preliminary and subject to further revision. 
Occasionally, the data for earlier months are also subject to revision.

All series shown in the table are in billions of dollars, seasonally adjusted at annual rates, and are
published by the Bureau of the Census.
                                                                  2003                                       2004
                                                      Oct.        Nov.          Dec.          Jan.           Feb.           Mar. *
 Private fixed investment:
                                                       
   Nonresidential structures:
1     Value of new total private
        construction put in place less
        residential (inc. improvements)...           217.7        215.7         217.3         213.4          215.8          214.6

  Equipment and software:
2  Manufacturers' shipments of
     complete aircraft......................          25.9         33.1          27.1          26.6           26.8           29.5

  Residential structures:
    Value of new residential
      construction put in place:
3      Single family............................     324.4        332.8         339.3         339.2          337.6          345.4

4      Multifamily..............................      34.7         34.6          34.1          33.5           33.8           34.6


  Change in private inventories: 
   
5     Change in inventories for nondurable
        manufacturing...........................      -3.4          4.6         -12.9          13.4           13.0            0.5

5a    Change in inventories for merchant
        wholesale and retail industries other
        than motor vehicles and equipment.......      14.4         33.0          24.3           1.0           43.5           34.0


 Net exports:

  Exports of goods:
6   U.S. exports of goods,
       international-transactions-
       accounts basis..........................      739.9        764.7         755.5          742.6          780.7          788.9

6a        Excluding gold........................     734.9        760.2         751.0          737.5          776.7          784.8


   Imports of goods:
7    U.S. imports of goods,
        international-transactions-
        accounts basis.........................     1304.9       1292.0        1330.6         1324.8         1347.6         1381.0


7a        Excluding gold.......................     1300.9       1288.0        1327.3         1320.7         1343.1         1376.4

     
8   Net exports of goods.......................     -565.1       -527.3        -575.1         -582.2         -566.8         -592.1

  
8a        Excluding gold.......................     -566.0       -527.7        -576.4         -583.2         -566.4         -591.6

 Government:

  State and local:
    Structures:
9     Value of new construction put
        in place........................             202.3        199.2         195.4          191.9          190.9          191.4

____________ 
*Assumption.