Economics is often called the "science of decision making." The decisions that economists analyze range from personal decisions such as how big a pizza to order or whether to buy or lease a new car to the decisions the federal government makes about things like the size of our military. Economists use information about these, and other decisions, to develop indicators that can be used to determine the health of our economy. Just as a physician relies on indicators such as temperature, blood pressure and heart rate to determine the health of a patient, economists use indicators like gross domestic product growth, the unemployment rate and the rate of inflation to predict our nation's economic health.
Students learn the meaning and measurement of six important economic indicators and use the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank National Economic Trends website to assess the current state of the economy.
This lesson focuses on the second estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on February 28, 2013. The current data and historical GDP data are explained. The meaning of GDP and potential impacts of changes of GDP are explored. This lesson will also raise questions about the impact of the current level of growth on the U.S. economy and individuals.