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Technical Note
Gross Domestic Product
Fourth Quarter of 2011 (advance)
January 27, 2012
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 complete set of estimates for the
fourth quarter is available on BEA's Web site at www.bea.gov; a brief summary of "highlights" is also
posted on the Web site.  In a few weeks, the estimates will be published in BEA's monthly journal,
the Survey of Current Business, along with a more detailed analysis of the estimates ("GDP and the

Real GDP

Real GDP increased 2.8 percent (annual rate) in the fourth quarter of 2011, following an increase of
1.8 percent in the third quarter.  The acceleration in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected an
upturn in inventory investment and accelerations in consumer spending and in residential fixed
investment that were partly offset by a deceleration in nonresidential fixed investment, a downturn
in federal government spending, an acceleration in imports, and a larger decrease in state and local
government spending.

Source Data for the Advance Estimate

The advance GDP estimate for the fourth quarter of 2011 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, including 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 from most other key data sources; BEA’s assumptions for the
third month are shown in table A.
Among those assumptions are the following:

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


The price index for gross domestic purchases—the prices paid by U.S. residents for goods and services
wherever produced—increased 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter after increasing 2.0 percent in the third.
Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.0 percent after
increasing 1.8 percent.

Disposable Personal Income and Personal Saving

Real disposable personal income (DPI) increased 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter, following a decrease of
1.9 percent in the third.  Current-dollar DPI increased 1.5 percent, following an increase of 0.4 percent.
The personal saving rate was 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with 3.9 percent in the third.

Fourth quarter corporate profits and gross domestic income (which is a measure of output based on the
costs incurred and the incomes earned in the production of GDP), as usual, are not available with the
advance GDP estimate; they are scheduled for release with the third GDP estimate on March 29, 2012.

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