US GDP Growth Numbers From 1930 until Present

-- Economics curve illustration --We receive quite a few questions through this site regarding the historical GDP (Gross Domestic Product) rates of the United States, such as: what was the best year ever for the US economy? What was the worst year for the US economy? How did 2008-09 (aka "The Great Recession") end up comparing to the darkest days of the "Great Depression"?

To learn the answers to these questions, I consulted the Bureau of Economic Analysis (US Department of Commerce) web site. The BEA has data on the historical GDP rates of the United States from 1930 until present day.

Let's take a look at the top 10 years in terms of GDP growth for the United States since 1930:

1942 - 18.50%
1941 - 17.10%
1943 - 16.40%
1936 - 13.00%
1934 - 10.90%
1935 - 8.90%
1940 - 8.80%
1950 - 8.70%
1944 - 8.10%
1939 - 8.10%

As you can clearly see from these numbers, it took the entrance of the United States into WWII to really snap the country out of its post-Great Depression economic malaise.

On the flip side, here are the bottom 10 years for GDP growth in the United States since 1930:

1932, -13.10%
1946, -10.90%
1930, -8.60%
1931, -6.50%
1938, -3.40%
2009, -2.40%
1982, -1.90%
1933, -1.30%
1945, -1.10%
1947/1958, -0.90%

The takeaway from these numbers - the "Great Depression" inflicted far more damage on the US economy (in terms of negative GDP growth) compared to the early 1980s stagflation-fueled recession or the "Great Recession" of 2008-09.

In case you were wondering about 2008 (when the "Great Recession" really started to rear its ugly head in the United States and the global financial system nearly collapsed), the US economy actually grew by 0.40%.

A few other interesting notes:

-in 1946 (the year after WWII ended) the US economy contracted by 10.90%

-from 1992 to 2008, the GDP of the United States grew without interruption

-from 1994 to 2000, the GDP of the United States grew by an average of more than 4% per year

Source: - National Economic Accounts

Filed under: General Knowledge

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