Chronicling 100 Years of the U.S. Economy

August 2021
Volume 101, Number 8

The 2021 Annual Update of the National Income and Product Accounts

PDF

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its annual update of the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs) on July 29. The update of the NIPAs covered the first quarter of 1999 through the first quarter of 2021 and resulted in revisions to gross domestic product (GDP), gross domestic income (GDI), and their components. The reference year for price and quantity estimates remains 2012. In cases for which the estimates for the reference year (2012) are revised, there are revisions to the levels of the related index numbers and chained-dollar estimates for the entire historical period; however, revisions to percent changes before the first quarter of 1999 are zero or very small.

As is usual for annual updates, the revised estimates reflect newly available source data that are more complete, more detailed, and otherwise more reliable than those that were previously incorporated.

Chart 1. Percent Change Over the Period 2015–2020

[Click chart to expand]

In this year's update, BEA adopted a new methodology to improve the accuracy and reliability of the estimates for housing services. BEA also extended back to 1999 several improvements that were introduced in last year's update to align the NIPAs with BEA's International Transactions Accounts (ITAs).1

With this update, economic growth from 2015 to 2020 is unchanged (chart 1):

  • Real GDP—an inflation-adjusted measure of the value of the goods and services produced by the nation's economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production—increased at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent, the same as previously published.
  • Real GDI—which measures the value of the production of goods and services in the United States as the incomes earned and the costs incurred in production—increased at an average annual rate of 1.0 percent; in the previously published estimates, real GDI increased at an average annual rate of 0.9 percent.
  • The average of real GDP and real GDI increased at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent; in the previously published estimates, the measure increased at an average annual rate of 1.0 percent.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent, unrevised from the previously published estimates.
  • Contributors to changes in real GDP growth for 2016–2020 are little changed from the previously published estimates. Consumer spending remains the driving force behind the change in GDP in all years. Revised estimates show that the contribution of private investment was stronger in 2019 than previously shown, while the contribution of consumer spending was weaker. In 2020, the contribution of government spending was stronger than previously shown, mitigating the decrease in real GDP, while exports and private investment contributed more negatively than previously shown.
  • For the period of expansion from the second quarter of 2009 through the fourth quarter of 2019, real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 2.3 percent, unrevised from the previously published estimate. The rate of growth in real GDI over this period was also unrevised at 2.4 percent. For the period of contraction from the fourth quarter of 2019 through the second quarter of 2020, real GDP decreased at an average annual rate of −19.2 percent, unrevised from the previous estimates. The rate of change in real GDI over this period was −18.3 percent; in previously published estimates, the rate of change was −18.9 percent. For the period of expansion from the second quarter of 2020 through the first quarter of 2021, real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 14.1 percent; in the previously published estimates, real GDP increased 14.0 percent. The rate of growth in real GDI over this period was 16.5 percent; in previously published estimates, the measure increased 16.8 percent.
  • The personal saving rate—personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income—was revised up 0.1 percentage point to 7.0 percent for 2016 and up 0.1 percentage point to 7.3 percent for 2017. It was revised down 0.2 percentage point to 7.6 percent for 2018 and revised up 0.1 percentage point to 7.6 percent for 2019. For 2020, it was revised up 0.2 percentage point to 16.6 percent.

The updated NIPA estimates reflect the incorporation of newly available and revised source data, the adoption of improved estimating methods, and for quarterly and monthly measures, the incorporation of updated seasonal adjustment factors.

Major source data

The major source data incorporated as part of this year's update are summarized in table 1, and additional information on the NIPA components affected by the incorporation of newly available and revised source data is provided in table 13.

Source data that affected the NIPA components include the following:

  • New Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2019 and newly incorporated ACS data for 2005–2018, which impacted estimates of consumer spending for housing services and estimates of rental income of persons.
  • Revised Census Bureau Service Annual Survey (SAS) data for 2016–2019, which replaced previously incorporated SAS data. SAS data most notably impacted estimates of consumer spending for services and estimates of private fixed investment in intellectual property products.
  • Revised Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tabulations of corporate tax returns for 2018 and new IRS tabulations of tax returns data for 2019 for corporations, sole proprietorships, and partnerships, which affected estimates of corporate profits, proprietors' income, and net interest.
  • Revised Economic Census data for 2017 and new Census Bureau Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) data for 2019, which replaced Census Bureau monthly industry shipments and inventories data, and revised monthly industry shipments and inventories data for 2016–2020, all of which impacted estimates of private investment in equipment and inventories.
  • New Census Bureau Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) data for 2019, which replaced Census Bureau Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) data, and revised ARTS data for 2016–2018, both of which impacted estimates of consumer spending for goods and private inventory investment.
  • Revised Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data for 2016–2020, which impacted estimates of private and government compensation.
  • Revised Department of Agriculture farm statistics for 2016–2020, which impacted estimates of farm output, inventory investment, and proprietors' income.
  • Revised BEA International Transactions Accounts data for 2013–2020, which impacted estimates of exports and imports of goods and services and income flows with the rest of the world.

Methodology improvements

This year's update reflects methodological changes to several of BEA's measures.

Housing services. Beginning with 2002, annual measures of personal consumption expenditures (PCE) on housing services and of rental income of persons are improved by using microdata on housing units from the ACS.2 The ACS data provide a single official statistical source for estimates of individual housing units and facilitate a more transparent methodology. The method continues to rely on BLS Consumer Price Indexes (CPIs) to deflate tenant-occupied housing services and owner-occupied housing services. Previously, NIPA measures of housing services were estimated at the national level using multiple data sources, including benchmark data from the last year (2001) of the Census Bureau's discontinued Residential Finance Survey.

The new method harmonizes the measures of housing services across BEA's national and regional programs, as it will also be reflected in the upcoming updates to the Industry Economic Accounts (IEAs) and the Regional Economic Accounts.3

Personal consumption expenditures on financial services. BEA's measures of personal spending on financial service charges, fees, and commissions are improved through the introduction of the BLS Producer Price Index (PPI) for “other securities related services including margin lending and mutual fund sales” to deflate the underlying measures of PCE for mutual fund sales. Previously, the deflation of mutual fund sales reflected trade source data and the BLS CPIs for all items.

Extension of previous improvements to prior periods. With this update, BEA carried back to 1999 several methodology improvements that were introduced for a more limited timespan as part of last year's annual update.4

Services furnished without payment by financial intermediaries. The NIPA measures of imports of services furnished without payment by financial intermediaries are now fully harmonized with the corresponding measures from BEA's ITAs. Beginning with 1999, the NIPAs now record measures of both imports and exports of these “implicit” services as financial services. As part of last year's annual update of the NIPAs, imports of these services were introduced back to 2015 and were recorded as part of “other” services; prior to last year's update, only exports of these services were recorded.5 As both exports and imports of these services are now recognized in both the ITAs and the NIPAs back to 1999, the NIPA and ITA measures of receipts and payments of imputed interest related to these implicit services are fully reconciled. Previously, adjustments for “imputed interest to (or from) the rest of the world” were required to reconcile the ITA and NIPA measures.

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities. Beginning with 1999, the accuracy and consistency of NIPA measures of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are improved by recording quarterly and annual federal government payments of interest on TIPS on an accrual basis and by introducing a more consistent allocation of the inflation adjustment to annual measures of interest paid to businesses, persons, and the rest of the world. As part of last year's annual update, these improvements were introduced beginning with 2015.

Improved prices. Beginning with 1999, measures of exports and imports of telecommunications, computer, and information services are improved through the use of a composite price index of BLS PPIs. Additionally, measures of exports and imports of maintenance and repair services are improved through the use of the BLS PPI for commercial and industrial machinery and equipment repair and maintenance. As part of the 2019 annual update, the use of these indexes was introduced beginning with 2014.

Presentational improvements and classificational changes

This year's annual update introduces several presentational improvements. First, a new reconciliation table (NIPA table 4.3C) reflects the improved alignment of the NIPAs and the ITAs that results from the recognition in the ITAs of exports and imports of financial services provided without payment, which was introduced as part of the 2020 ITA annual update. This new table and existing NIPA tables also reflect the reclassification of several categories of exports and imports in the NIPAs. Specifically, as noted above, exports and imports of implicit financial services are now classified as financial services; previously, they were recorded as part of other services. Additionally, exports and imports of personal, cultural, and recreational services and of construction services are now recorded as separate categories of “other business services” in the underlying detail tables (NIPA tables 4.2.3U through 4.2.6U). Previously, these measures were unpublished components of the “other” category of other business services.

Measures of current-dollar GDP were revised down for 2016–2018 and revised up for 2019–2020; from 2015 to 2020 current-dollar GDP increased at an average annual rate of 2.8 percent (unrevised from previously published estimates).

From 2015 to 2020, real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent, the same as the prior estimate. Real GDP growth was unrevised for 2016 and 2017, revised down 0.1 percentage point for 2018, revised up 0.1 percentage point for 2019, and revised up 0.1 percentage point for 2020 (table 2). The revisions to real GDP and its components primarily reflect revisions to current-dollar measures; price measures were not significantly revised.

  • For 2016, upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, state and local government spending, and exports and a downward revision to imports (a subtraction in the calculation of GDP) were offset by downward revisions to PCE and to federal government spending.
  • For 2017, upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and exports and a downward revision to imports were offset by downward revisions to PCE and to state and local government spending.
  • For 2018, downward revisions to state and local government spending, nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and exports were partly offset by upward revisions to PCE and federal government spending.
  • For 2019, upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment were partly offset by downward revisions to PCE and federal government spending and by an upward revision to imports.
  • For 2020, upward revisions to state and local government spending, private inventory investment, PCE and federal government spending and residential fixed investment were partly offset by downward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment and exports and by an upward revision to imports.

The revisions did not reverse the direction of change in real GDP for any quarter in the recent revision period (the first quarter of 2016 through the first quarter of 2021). In three quarters, the revised estimates showed that real GDP accelerated, rather than decelerated; in two quarters, the revised estimates showed that real GDP decelerated, rather than accelerated, but the quarterly pattern for real GDP is similar to the previously published estimates, as illustrated in chart 2. The largest upward revision was 1.7 percentage points for the second quarter of 2019. The primary contributors to the upward revision were private investment, resulting in large part from the incorporation of revised Census Bureau data on construction spending (value put in place), manufacturers' shipments, and wholesale trade inventories. The largest downward revision was −0.7 percentage point for the first quarter of 2018. The primary contributors to the downward revision were private investment, based on revised manufacturers' shipments data, and an upward revision to imports, based primarily on revised Census data on foreign trade.

The updated estimates of PCE reflect a new methodology and the use of the Census Bureau's ACS for personal spending on housing services.6 Revisions to current-dollar housing services begin with 2002. The revisions are upward from the third quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2014; the largest upward revision to real PCE for housing is almost $49 billion for the third quarter of 2010. Revisions are downward from the third quarter of 2014 through the first quarter of 2021; the largest downward revision to real PCE for housing is almost $90 billion for the second quarter of 2019.

The updated estimates also reflect newly available and revised Census Bureau SAS data and ARTS data, revised Census Bureau MRTS data, newly available and revised Federal Reserve Board (FRB) Financial Accounts of the United States data, and newly available and revised IRS tabulations of corporate and sole proprietors and partnerships tax return data.

The change in real PCE was revised down 0.3 percentage point for 2016 and down 0.2 percentage point for 2017 and 2019. It was revised up 0.2 percentage point for 2018 and up 0.1 percentage point for 2020 (table 3).

  • For 2016 and 2017, the revisions were primarily due to downward revisions to services, particularly housing services. Downward revisions to goods also contributed.
  • For 2018, the upward revision was primarily due to an upward revision in services, particularly financial services and insurance.
  • For 2019, the revision was due to downward revisions to both services and goods. Within services, the revision was primarily due to a downward revision to financial services and insurance; within goods, the revision was due to downward revisions across several categories.
  • For 2020, the upward revision was primarily due to upward revisions to goods, particularly motor vehicles and parts and clothing and footwear. The upward revisions were partly offset by downward revisions to several categories of services.

The revisions did not reverse the direction of change in real PCE for any quarter in the recent revision period, and the quarterly pattern is similar to the previous estimates, as illustrated in chart 3. The largest upward revision to the quarterly estimates was to the fourth quarter of 2020; the largest downward revision was to the first quarter of 2019.

Revisions to private fixed investment primarily reflect the incorporation of source data, including revised Census Bureau construction spending (value put in place) data, newly available and revised SAS data, revised Quarterly Services Survey data, newly available ASM data, newly available and revised Economic Census data, and newly available and revised SAS data.

The change in real private fixed investment was revised up 0.3 percentage point for 2016 and 2017, down 0.4 percentage point for 2018, up 1.3 percentage points for 2019, and down 0.9 percentage point for 2020 (table 4).

  • For 2016, the revision was primarily due to an upward revision to intellectual property products, particularly software.
  • For 2017, the revision was primarily due to an upward revision to software that was partly offset by a downward revision to equipment.
  • For 2018, the revision was primarily due to a downward revision to equipment that was partly offset by an upward revision to intellectual property products, particularly software and research and development.
  • For 2019, the revision was due to upward revisions across categories, led by research and development and structures, particularly commercial and health care structures.
  • For 2020, the revision was primarily due to downward revisions to equipment, particularly transportation equipment, and to nonresidential structures, particularly power and communication structures. These downward revisions were partly offset by upward revisions to intellectual property products, particularly software and research and development, and to residential structures, particularly single-family structures.

The revisions reversed the direction of change in 2 of the 21 quarters in the recent revision period, but the quarterly pattern of real private fixed investment was otherwise similar to the previously published estimates, as illustrated in chart 4. The largest upward revision to real private fixed investment was for the second quarter of 2019, and the largest downward revision was for the third quarter of 2020.

Revisions to inventory investment reflect Census Bureau data on inventory book values from a number of surveys, including revised and newly available data from its ASM, ARTS, and AWTS, and from revised monthly survey data, including the Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders Survey, the MRTS, and the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey. Revisions also reflect newly available and revised IRS Statistics of Income data and revised data from the Department of Agriculture for farm inventories.

Change in real private inventories, or real inventory investment, was revised up $11.2 billion for 2016, revised up $17.8 billion for 2017, revised up $12.3 billion for 2018, revised up $26.6 billion for 2019, and revised up $35.2 billion for 2020 (table 5; additionally, chart 5 shows quarterly changes over the recent revision period).

  • For 2016 and 2017, there were upward revisions to wholesale trade, to manufacturing, and to retail trade; for 2017, there were also upward revisions to other industries and to mining, utilities, and construction.
  • For 2018, upward revisions to manufacturing, to other industries, and to mining, utilities, and construction were partly offset by downward revisions to farm, to retail trade, and to wholesale trade.
  • For 2019, upward revisions to manufacturing, to mining, utilities, and construction, and to wholesale trade were partly offset by downward revisions to other industries, to retail trade, and to farm.
  • For 2020, upward revisions to other industries, to retail trade, to wholesale trade, and to mining, utilities, and construction were partly offset by downward revisions to farm and to manufacturing.

The revisions to exports reflect the incorporation of revised data from the ITAs and the extension of previous improvements to prior periods, including the recording of both imports and exports of services furnished without payment by financial intermediaries and the reclassification of several categories of imports and exports. As with the NIPAs, the ITAs are updated each year; the most recent update was released in June 2021.7

The percent change in real exports was revised up 0.1 percentage point for 2016, up 0.2 percentage point for 2017, and down 0.2 percentage point for 2018. It was unrevised for 2019, and it was revised down 0.7 percentage point for 2020 (table 6).

  • For 2016, the revision was due to upward revisions to both goods and services. The revision to goods was due to an upward revision to “other” goods. The revision to services was primarily due to an upward revision to “other” services that was partly offset by a downward revision to other business services.
  • For 2017, the revision was due to an upward revision to services, particularly travel services; a smaller upward revision to goods also contributed.
  • For 2018, the revision was due to a downward revision to services that was partly offset by an upward revision to goods. The revision to services was primarily due to a downward revision to charges for the use of intellectual property n.e.c. (not elsewhere classified); downward revisions to “other” services, to other business services, and to transport services also contributed.
  • For 2019, the revision was due to upward revisions to both goods and services. The revision to goods was primarily due to upward revisions to capital goods, except automotive. The revision to services was primarily due to upward revisions to charges for the use of intellectual property n.e.c. and to travel that were partly offset by a downward revision to other business services.
  • For 2020, the revision was due to downward revisions to both goods and to services. The revision to goods was primarily due to a downward revision to industrial supplies and materials. Within services, downward revisions to travel services, to government goods and services n.e.c., and to charges for the use of intellectual property n.e.c. were partly offset by upward revisions to other business services, to other services, and to transport.

The direction of change in real exports was reversed for 1 of the 21 quarters in the recent revision period, but the quarterly pattern is similar to the previously published estimates, as illustrated in chart 6. The largest upward revision was to the second quarter of 2020; the largest downward revision was to the first quarter of 2020.

As with exports, the revisions to imports primarily reflect updated data from the ITAs and the extension of previous improvements to prior periods. The percent change in real imports was revised down 0.2 percentage point for 2016, down 0.3 percentage point for 2017, and was unrevised for 2018. It was revised up 0.1 percentage point for 2019 and up 0.4 percentage point for 2020 (table 7).

  • For 2016, the revision was due to a downward revision to imports of goods that was partly offset by an upward revision to imports of services. The revision to goods was primarily due to downward revisions to “other” goods and to industrial supplies and materials.
  • For 2017, the revision was primarily due to a downward revision to goods; a smaller downward revision to services also contributed. The revision to goods was primarily due to a downward revision to “other” goods.
  • For 2018, an upward revision to imports of goods, particularly “other” goods, was offset by downward revisions to imports of services, particularly “other business services” and “other” services.
  • For 2019, the revision was due to upward revisions to imports of goods and services to several categories; the largest upward revision was to industrial supplies and materials. The upward revisions were partly offset by downward revisions to several categories, particularly transport.
  • For 2020, the revision was due to upward revisions to imports of goods across several categories, particularly consumer goods, except food and automotive.

The direction of change in real imports was reversed for 4 of the 21 quarters in the recent revision period; in a fifth quarter, the previously published measure had turned down, but the revised measure showed no change. Nevertheless, the quarterly pattern was generally similar to the previously published estimates, as illustrated in chart 7. The largest upward revision was to the first quarter of 2018; the largest downward revision was to the third quarter of 2020.

The revisions to state and local government spending primarily reflect revised and newly available source data from Census Bureau surveys of government finances, which are used to estimate most components of spending by state and local governments, revised and newly available data from the Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll, revised BLS QCEW data for 2016–2019 and new QCEW data for 2020, which are used to prepare estimates of government compensation, and new Department of Health and Human Services Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data for 2019–2020.

Revisions to federal government spending primarily reflect revised allocations of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) data from the federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018 and FY 2019, revised FY 2020 OMB budget data for 2019 and 2020, and newly available preliminary OMB budget data for FY 2021.

The percent change in real government spending was revised up 0.2 percentage point for 2016, down 0.4 percentage point for 2017 and 2018, down 0.1 percentage point for 2019, and up 1.4 percentage points for 2020 (table 8).

  • For 2016, the revision was primarily due to an upward revision to state and local government consumption expenditures; an upward revision to investment spending also contributed. The revision was partly offset by a downward revision to federal government spending.
  • For 2017, the revision was due to a downward revision to state and local government consumption spending that was partly offset by upward revisions to state and local government investment spending and to federal government investment spending.
  • For 2018, the revision was due to downward revisions to state and local government consumption and investment spending that were partly offset by an upward revision to federal government nondefense investment spending.
  • For 2019, the revision was due to downward revisions to federal government nondefense and defense investment spending that were partly offset by federal government nondefense and defense consumption expenditures.
  • For 2020, the revision was primarily due to an upward revision to state and local government consumption expenditures; an upward revision to federal government nondefense consumption expenditures also contributed, while federal defense consumption expenditures were a partial offset.

The direction of change in real government expenditures was reversed for only 1 of the 21 quarters in the recent revision period; in an additional quarter, the previously published measure showed no change, but the revised measure turned down. The quarterly pattern was similar to the previously published estimates, as illustrated in chart 8. The largest upward revision was to the third quarter of 2020; the largest downward revisions were to the third quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2021.

Revisions to BEA's various price measures—such as gross domestic purchases, GDP, and PCE—were small and reflect revised and newly available source data and the regular incorporation of annual weights for the most recent year (2020) (table 9). For the period 2015–2020, the average rate of increase in gross domestic purchases prices was 1.5 percent, the same as previously published.

  • The percent change in the gross domestic purchases price index—a measure of the prices paid by consumers, businesses, and governments—was unrevised for 2016–2018, revised down by 0.1 percentage point for 2019, and unrevised for 2020.
  • The percent change in GDP prices was unrevised for 2016–2019 and was revised up by 0.1 percentage point for 2020.
  • The percent change in PCE prices was unrevised for 2016–2020.
  • From the fourth quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2021, the average annual rate of increase in the price index for PCE was unrevised at 1.7 percent. The average annual rate of increase in the “core” PCE price index (which excludes food and energy) was revised up 0.1 percentage point to 1.8 percent.

The revised estimates did not reverse the direction of change in the price indexes for gross domestic purchases and for gross domestic purchases excluding food and energy for the recent revision period, and the quarterly patterns are similar to the previously published estimates, as shown in chart 9.

Revisions to the components of national income reflect the incorporation of a variety of newly available and revised source data. For this annual update, major source data include IRS tabulations of tax return data for corporations, for sole proprietorships, and for partnerships; Census Bureau data on government finances; revised OMB federal budget data; FRB data from the Financial Accounts of the United States; revised BLS QCEW data; and revised data from BEA's ITAs. Additionally, the revisions to national income reflect the revisions to rental income of persons that result from the new estimating method and source data for the measures of housing services.

For measures of income and saving, the annual update extends back to the first quarter of 1999 to reflect the revised measures from the ITAs of income flows between the United States and the rest of the world. Revisions to national income prior to 2016 were small; the revision for 2015 was −0.2 percent of national income, and the largest revision prior to 2015 was 0.3 percent.

National income was revised down 0.3 percent for 2016, down 0.5 percent for 2017, and down 0.1 percent for 2018. It was revised up less than 0.1 percent for 2019, and up 0.6 percent for 2020. For this recent time period, the largest downward revisions were to rental income of persons due to the changed estimating method for housing services. The largest offsetting upward revisions were to corporate profits (table 10).

  • For 2016, downward revisions, particularly to rental income of persons and to net interest, were partly offset by upward revisions to corporate profits, compensation of employees, and business current transfer payments.
  • For 2017, downward revisions to rental income of persons and to net interest were partly offset by upward revisions to corporate profits, compensation of employees, and taxes on production and imports.
  • For 2018, downward revisions to rental income of persons and to net interest were partly offset by upward revisions to corporate profits, taxes on production and imports, and compensation of employees.
  • For 2019, upward revisions to corporate profits, taxes on production and imports, and compensation of employees were partly offset by downward revisions to rental income of persons, proprietors' income, and net interest.
  • For 2020, upward revisions to corporate profits, compensation of employees, and taxes on production and imports were partly offset by downward revisions to rental income of persons and proprietors' income.

Current-dollar GDI was revised down by less than 0.3 percent for 2016, down by less than 0.4 percent for 2017, and down by less than 0.1 percent for 2018. It was revised up by 0.1 percent for 2019, and by less than 0.5 percent for 2020 (table 11 and chart 10).

The percent change in real GDI was unrevised for 2016, was revised down 0.1 percentage point for 2017, revised up 0.3 percentage point for 2018, revised up 0.2 percentage point for 2019, and revised up 0.4 percentage point for 2020. From 2015 to 2020, the average of real GDI and real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from the previously published estimates.

The statistical discrepancy—current-dollar GDP less current-dollar GDI as a percentage of GDP—was −0.5 percent for 2016, −0.6 percent for 2017 and 2018, −0.3 percent for 2019, and −0.8 percent for 2020. The discrepancy as a percentage of GDP was the same as previously published for the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017; was revised up for the second and third quarters of 2017; was unrevised for the fourth quarter of 2017, and was revised down for the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2021, as shown in chart 11.

Most of the components of personal income are also components of national income and GDI, and the revisions reflect the incorporation of much of the same newly available and revised source data, including tabulations of tax return data from the IRS, FRB data from the Financial Accounts of the United States, and wage and salary data from the BLS QCEW. The revisions to personal income also reflect the revisions to rental income of persons that result from the new estimating method and source data for the measures of housing services.

The impacts on personal income of the government's response to the global COVID-19 pandemic are embedded in the source data underlying the measures; therefore, while the total impacts are reflected in personal income, the impacts of each recovery program can't be separately identified. However, the impacts of select programs are provided on BEA's website at “Federal Recovery Programs and BEA Statistics.” For more information, see the box “COVID 19 in the National Income and Product Accounts.”

Personal income was revised down for 2016–2020 (table 12).

  • For 2016, the revision was primarily due to a downward revision to rental income of persons; personal interest income and proprietors' income were also revised down.
  • For 2017, the revision was primarily due to downward revisions to rental income of persons and to personal interest income; personal dividend income and proprietors' income were also revised down.
  • For 2018, the revision was primarily due to downward revisions to rental income of persons, personal dividend income, and personal interest income; proprietors' income was also revised down. The downward revisions were partly offset by upward revisions to compensation of employees and to personal current transfer receipts.
  • For 2019, the revision was primarily due to downward revisions to rental income of persons, nonfarm proprietors' income, and personal interest income; farm proprietors' income was also revised down. These revisions were partly offset by upward revisions to personal dividend income, compensation of employees, and personal current transfer receipts.
  • For 2020, the revision was primarily due to downward revisions to rental income of persons, nonfarm proprietors' income, personal current transfer receipts, and personal interest income; these were partly offset by upward revisions to compensation and personal dividend income.
  • Personal saving was revised up for 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020, as personal outlays, particularly personal consumption expenditures, were revised down by more than personal income. Revisions to personal taxes were small. Personal saving was revised down for 2018, as personal income was revised down by more than personal outlays.
  • The personal saving rate (personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income) was revised up to 7.0 percent in 2016, revised up to 7.3 percent in 2017, revised down to 7.6 percent in 2018, revised up to 7.6 percent in 2019, and revised up to 16.6 percent in 2020 (an upward revision of 0.2 percentage point).
  • For the first quarter of 2016 through the first quarter of 2021, the personal saving rate was revised up for 12 quarters, revised down for 5 quarters, and was unrevised for 4 quarters. The average quarterly saving rate over this period was unrevised at 9.7 percent.

Table 13 presents the updated NIPA components with revisions of $5.0 billion or more (in absolute value) and lists the major source data that were incorporated as part of this year's update. Note that the incorporation of newly available and revised source data for a given year usually results in a revision to the level of an estimate both for that year and for subsequent years.

ACLI
American Council for Life Insurers
ARTS
Annual retail trade survey
ASM
Annual survey of manufacturers
BEA
Bureau of Economic Analysis
BLS
Bureau of Labor Statistics
CCAdj
Capital consumption adjustment
CPS/HVS
Current population survey/housing vacancy survey
DoL ETA
Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
FRB
Federal Reserve Board
FY
Fiscal year
IRS
Internal Revenue Service
ITAs
International Transaction Accounts
IVA
Inventory valuation adjustment
MEPS
Medical Expenditure Panel Survey
MRTS
Monthly retail trade survey
n.e.c.
Not elsewhere classified
NIPAs
National income and product accounts
NSF
National Science Foundation
OMB
Office of Management and Budget
QCEW
Quarterly census of employment and wages
SAS
Service Annual Survey
SOI
Statistics of Income
USDA
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Annual NIPA estimates for 1929 forward and quarterly estimates for 1947 forward are available on BEA's website in more than 350 interactive tables that are arranged in roughly the same order as the 7 summary accounts.8 The tables can be downloaded in a variety of formats, customized by date and by frequency, and displayed in charts.9

The following selected revised NIPA tables will be released later this fall:

  • Table 2.9 (personal income by households and by nonprofit institutions serving households (NPISH))
  • Tables 3.15–3.17 (government spending by function)
  • Tables 3.18 and 3.19 (reconciliation of federal government and of state and local government spending estimates with related source data)
  • Tables 3.20 and 3.21 (state government and local government current receipts and expenditures)
  • Table 5.10 (changes in net stocks of fixed assets and inventories)
  • Table 7.19 (reconciliation of NIPA income and outlays of NPISH with IRS revenue and expenses)

In addition, several other BEA estimates will be updated later this year to reflect the results of this year's NIPA update. They are as follows:

  • The IEAs, which provide a detailed view of the interrelationships between U.S. producers and users and the contribution to production across industries, will be released on September 30, 2021. The NIPAs and the IEAs have been conceptually integrated, and their estimates have been consistent since 2013.
  • The GDP by state estimates, which provide comprehensive measures of the economies of each state and the District of Columbia, will be released on October 1, 2021. As with the IEAs, the by-state measures of GDP are consistent with the national and industry measures of GDP.
  • The integrated macroeconomic accounts published jointly by BEA and the FRB, which relate production, income and spending, capital formation, financial transactions, and asset revaluations to changes in net worth for the major sectors of the U.S. economy, will be released later this year.