Real-Time Tracker Sees Just 0.5% GDP Growth

Number of the Day: The most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance


The Balance

That’s one real-time tracker’s latest estimate for third-quarter economic growth, a fraction of the more than 6% forecasted less than three months ago and one of the starkest signs of how quickly things can change in the pandemic.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which uses a mathematical model for its GDPNow economic growth forecasts, said the latest economic indicators suggest real gross domestic product (GDP) will grow at an annualized rate of only 0.5% in the July-to-September quarter. The fast-shrinking estimate—as high as 6.3% in early August—was 1.2% on Friday, but then two more weaker-than-expected government reports, including on new home construction, forced it down to the 0.5%. 

We won’t know how much GDP actually grew until the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its quarterly report on Oct. 28, but estimates have been falling right and left amid signs that a summer spike in inflation and COVID-19 cases discouraged consumer spending and supply and worker shortages persisted.(Still, the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow stands out for its pessimism.) For perspective, GDP grew at an annualized rate of 6.3% in the first quarter and 6.6% in the second.


With inflation rising 5.4% in the 12 months through September, well above the Fed’s average 2% longer-term target, a weakening economy could put the Fed in a difficult position when determining the path forward for benchmark interest rates. 

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Medora at

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. “GDPNow Estimate for 2021: Q3.”

  2. Federal Reserve. “Beige Book--October 20, 2021.” Page 1.

  3. Ing. “U.S. Getting Back On Track.”

  4. BMO. “North American Outlook: Economy Hits Speed Block Not Roadblock.”

Related Articles