Gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2010, up from a 2.6 percent pace in the third quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis just reported.
At 3.2 percent, the pace is a bit less than the 3.5 percent that economists had been expecting. But this is just the BEA's first estimate — there will be revisions in each of the next two months. So the fourth-quarter figure could change.
This morning's report shows that GDP has expanded for six straight quarters. The latest recession officially began in December 2007 and ended in May 2009 — though the growth since then has not been strong enough to bring unemployment down substantially.
From the end of 2009 to the end of 2010, GDP grew 2.8 percent. From the end of 2008 to the end of 2009, it expanded just 0.2 percent. And in the period from the end of 2007 to the end of 2008, it shrank 2.8 percent.