Wed August 30, 2017

The U.S. economy grew faster in the second quarter of this year than previously thought. The latest estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the second quarter real gross domestic product (GDP) growth came in at 3.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted annual rate—higher than the 2.6 percent advance estimate released in July. From a year ago, the second quarter real GDP rose 2.2 percent.

Personal consumption expenditures, which are roughly 70 percent of GDP, rose 3.3 percent. Of particular interest to the plastics industry were the increases in both durable and nondurable goods consumption at 8.9 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

Business investment spending went up 3.6 percent—a reversal of the 1.2 percent decline in the first quarter. Investment spending on industrial equipment, in particular, rose 2.9 percent in the second quarter—a 6.8-percent increase from a year ago, suggesting sustained business sector confidence in economic conditions. Corporate profits, including inventory valuation and capital consumption allowances, rose 1.3 percent in the second quarter—a 7.0 percent increase from the same period in 2016—which should sustain investment-spending momentum ahead.

Although residential investment spending (housing) declined 6.5 percent in the second quarter, from a year ago residential investment spending was up 1.5 percent, confirming the continued recovery in the housing market.

Overall, positive second quarter GDP numbers from both household and business sectors are consistent with upbeat business activities in the plastics industry in the second quarter. These positive trends are likely to continue considering that the U.S. economy is fast closing its output gap—the difference between the economy’s actual output and its total potential output—and is edging closer to operating at full capacity.