tion equipment (up 17. 8 percent). Trade remained a
bright spot during the fourth quarter, as both exports
and imports increased by 4. 3 percent and 3. 8 percent, respectively.
Government spending—the other major component of GDP—declined 4. 4 percent, due to
budget cuts at the federal, state and local levels.
At the federal level, defense cuts of 12. 1 percent
outweighed increases in nondefense spending.
Squeezed by lower revenues, state and local governments continued to slash spending for the sixth
Employment closed the year on an upbeat note.
After the weak showing of the third quarter, the
fourth quarter of 2011 recorded a net 447,000 payroll jobs added to the economy. The bulk of that gain
came during December, when private businesses
added 220,000 positions. Over the quarter, private
service-providing industries accounted for 437,000
of total jobs created. In a positive development for
commercial real estate, professional and business
services gained 141,000 jobs, education and health
added 109,000 jobs, while information, financial
activities and leisure/hospitality industries contributed an additional 95,000 jobs.
The trends were also mirrored in the figures
for first-time unemployment insurance claims,
which broke through the 400,000-per-week floor in
November. In addition, the number of people drawing unemployment benefits steadily declined over
the quarter toward 3. 6 million (it was 4. 2 million
during the fourth quarter 2010). The unemployment
rate dropped from 9.0 percent in September to 8. 5
percent in December.
In light of the broader trends, consumers
embraced the end of 2011 with a cautious sense of
optimism. The two main measures of consumer confidence and sentiment both showed improvements in
the last three months of the year. The consumer confidence index compiled by the Conference Board—a
measure that considers respondents’ general feelings about the job market and their finances—
increased from 40. 9 in October to 64.8 in December.
Meanwhile, the University of Michigan survey of
consumer sentiment also increased during the fourth
quarter, from 60.8 in October to 69.9 in December.
Britain Euro area
India Brazil China Russia Source: Economist Intelligence Unit
GDP SIOR Index
SIOR Index Results
Amid broader economic upswings, office and
industrial spaces are turning the corner. The fourth
quarter SIOR survey mirrors the trends in the
Percentage, Annual Rate