Gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services produced in the economy, jumped 6.4% for the first three months of the year on an annualized basis. Outside of the reopening-fueled third-quarter surge last year, it was the best period for GDP since the third quarter of 2003.
“This signals the economy is off and running and it will be a boom-like year,” said Mark Zandi chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Obviously, the American consumer is powering the train and businesses are investing strongly.”
Consumers, who account for 68.2% of the economy, accelerated spending by 10.7% in the quarter, compared with a 2.3% increase in the previous period. The expenditures were largely focused on goods, which increased 23.6%, but spending on services, which had been the missing link in the recovery, still grew by 4.6%.
On the goods side, spending exploded by 41.4% on durable goods like appliances and other long-lasting purchases.
While the numbers indicated that many used the free money to spend, they also tucked a good portion of it away, as the savings rate soared to 21%, from 13% in Q4.
“With the elevated saving rate, households are still flush with cash and, now that restrictions are being eased as the vaccination program proves a success, that will allow them to boost spending on the worst-affected services, without needing to pull back too much on goods spending,” wrote Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.