Real gross domestic product – the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States – decreased at an annual rate of 0.3% in the third quarter of 2008,(that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.8%.

The Bureau emphasized that the third quarter “advance” estimates are based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency. The third quarter “preliminary” estimates, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on Nov. 25, 2008.

Most of the major components contributed to the downturn in real GDP growth in the third quarter. The largest contributors were a sharp downturn in PCE for nondurable goods, a smaller decrease in imports, a larger decrease in PCE for durable goods, and a deceleration in exports. Notable offsets were an upturn in inventory investment and an acceleration in federal government spending.

Real personal consumption expenditures decreased 3.1% in the third quarter, in contrast to an increase of 1.2%  in the second. Durable goods decreased 14.1%, compared with a decrease of 2.8%.  Nondurable goods decreased 6.4%, in contrast to an increase of 3.9%. Services expenditures increased 0.6%, compared with an increase of 0.7%.