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Technical Note
Gross Domestic Product
First Quarter of 2013 (Advance Estimate)
April 26, 2013
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 first 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 2.5 percent (annual rate) in the first quarter of 2013, following an
increase of 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter. The acceleration in real GDP in the first
quarter reflected an upturn in private inventory investment, an acceleration in consumer
spending, an upturn in exports, and a smaller decrease in federal government spending
that were partly offset by an upturn in imports and a deceleration in nonresidential fixed

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; motor vehicle sales and
inventories; durable manufacturing 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. Among those assumptions are the following:

*	an increase in nondurable manufacturing inventories,
*	an increase in non-motor-vehicle merchant wholesale and retail inventories,
*	an increase in exports of goods, excluding gold, and
*	a decrease 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 1.1 percent in the first quarter after
increasing 1.6 percent in the fourth. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for
gross domestic purchases increased 1.3 percent after increasing 1.2 percent.  The pay
raise for military personnel added less than 0.1 percentage point to the first-quarter
change in the gross domestic purchases price index.

Disposable Personal Income

Real disposable personal income (DPI) decreased 5.3 percent in the first quarter,
following an increase of 6.2 percent in the fourth. The downturn in real DPI reflected the
expiration of the “payroll tax holiday” in the first quarter and the acceleration of bonuses
and personal dividends to the fourth quarter in anticipation of changes in individual tax
rates. BEA estimates that companies paid special and accelerated dividends of $39.5
billion in the fourth quarter, of which $26.4 billion ($105.6 billion at an annual rate) was
paid to persons and is included in personal income.

The personal saving rate was 2.6 percent in the first quarter, compared with 4.7 percent
in the fourth.

Comprehensive NIPA Revision Scheduled for July 31

On July 31, 2013, BEA will present the results of its comprehensive revision of the
national income and product accounts (NIPAs).  A series of articles in the Survey of
Current Business discusses the revision in detail; these articles and other information
about the revision are available on the BEA Web site at www.bea.gov/GDP-revisions.

The comprehensive revision will incorporate the results of the 2007 Benchmark Input-
Output Accounts, as well as other improvements to the definitions, classifications, and
methodologies used in the accounts. Many of these improvements reflect the recent
update to the international guidelines for national accounts, the System of National
Accounts 2008.

For this comprehensive revision, BEA is planning a number of major improvements,

*	Expenditures by business, government, and nonprofit institutions on research
        and development will be recognized as fixed investment. Currently, these
        expenditures are treated as intermediate inputs. Based on preliminary estimates
        for 2007, this change will boost the level of GDP by about 2 percent, or about
        $300 billion.
*	Expenditures by business and nonprofit institutions on entertainment, literary,
        and artistic originals (such as theatrical movies, books, and musical recordings)
        will be recognized as fixed investment. Based on preliminary research for 2007,
        this change will boost the level of GDP by about 0.5 percent, or about $70 billion.
*	The tables presenting private nonresidential fixed investment will show three
        major categories: structures, equipment, and intellectual property products
        (which will consist of software, research and development, and entertainment,
        literary, and artistic originals). Currently, these tables show two major categories:
        structures and “equipment and software.”
*	BEA will measure the transactions of defined benefit pension plans on an accrual
        accounting basis and will recognize the cost of unfunded liabilities. Currently, the
        NIPAs measure pension-related compensation based on the cash contributions
        made by employers, which can differ from the pension benefits that are accrued
        by employees. These changes could raise or lower compensation of employees,
        depending on whether the accrued measure of pension compensation is larger or
        smaller than the cash contributions. In addition, any accrued interest on
        unfunded pension liabilities will affect the profits of private employers and the net
        saving of government employers.
*	The reference year for chain-type quantity and price indexes and chained-dollar
        estimates will be updated from 2005 to 2009.

Nicole Mayerhauser
Chief, National Income and Wealth Division
Bureau of Economic Analysis
(202) 606-9742