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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Business economists have tempered their 2021 growth expectations, cutting nearly a point off their annual GDP forecast since earlier this year, according to the NABE outlook survey released today.

Why it matters: This reflects increased concerns over the pandemic's impact on the economy, particularly due to the spread of Delta and other variants. Panelists said that a faster vaccine rollout could improve their outlooks.

By the numbers: NABE survey panelists project 5.7% real GDP growth for 2021, which is down from the 6.5% mark in May.

  • Anything above 4.8% would still be the highest annual GDP increase since 1984.
  • Panelists expect 2022 growth to be 4.2%, down from 4.4% in May.
  • Labor market expectations remained unchanged from May, with two-thirds of panelists still expecting non-farm payrolls to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year.

Sorry, pols: Only a small percentage of panelists felt that federal action or inaction on a large spending bill would have a significant impact on short-term growth, but most expect sharp inflation growth in 2021 and moderate inflation growth in 2022.

Go deeper

Housing slowdown threatens China's economic muscle

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China Evergrande and a growing group of Chinese housing developers are inching toward defaulting on their debt.

Why it matters: While that's unlikely to cause a crisis of Lehman proportions, as Axios’ Felix Salmon has reported, just how much China's real estate sector cools could impact the nation's role as a growth driver for companies around the world.

U.S. retail sales beat expectations for second month in a row

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The strength of retail sales data has shocked prognosticators for the second month in a row.

What’s new: Although September spending was lower than the peaks reached in the post-vax, pre-Delta variant honeymoon economy of the spring, consumers still spent more defiantly than economists had expected.

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.