U.S. economy expands at 2.9% annual rate in fourth quarter
The U.S. economy grew at an annualized 2.9% rate in the final months of 2022, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.
Why it matters: Economists are bracing for a significant slowdown in economic activity as the Federal Reserve's interest rates hikes take hold, but that certainly wasn't the case in the final months of last year.
- Economists expected the Gross Domestic Product figures to show the economy grew at a 2.6% annualized rate last quarter, after expanding at a 3.2% pace in the prior quarter.
Details: Consumer spending and businesses built up private inventories gave GDP the biggest boost. Among the biggest drags: fixed investment, a category that includes housing.
By the numbers: Over the calendar year, GDP grew by 2.1% in 2022 — a decent pace, especially considering the historically aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve that sought to restrain economic activity to contain inflation.
- Those rate hikes hit the housing sector particularly hard, which dragged down overall growth earlier last year.
Catch up quick: The first half of 2022 was dogged by fears that the economy had entered a recession, after back-to-back quarters of contractions. But by the second half of the year, the economy had returned to growth mode.
- The growth over 2022 was an expected slowdown from the 5.9% achieved in 2021, when the economy bounced back from the pandemic shock.
Editor's note: This story was updated with a new graphic.