U.S. GDP by Year Compared to Recessions and Events

The Strange Ups and Downs of the U.S. Economy Since 1929

people walking down the street during the Depression
GDP got hammered during the Great Depression. Two unemployed men walking towards Los Angeles, California to find work. Dorothea Lange/Getty Images

U.S. GDP by year is a good overview of economic growth in the United States. Below, find a table of the nation's gross domestic product for each year since 1929 compared to major economic events. It begins with the stock market crash of 1929 and goes through the subsequent Great Depression. It includes five wars and several serious recessions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis compiles the data.

These extreme swings in the business cycle puts today's crises in perspective.

Compare GDP by year to fiscal and monetary policies to get a complete picture of what works and what doesn't.

Keep in mind when reviewing this history that the Bureau of Economic Analysis measures GDP in two ways. Nominal GDP is total U.S. economic output for that year. Real GDP takes out the effect of inflation. The BEA uses it to calculate the GDP growth rate and GDP per capita. Experts use nominal GDP to compare GDP to the U.S. debt, which is also not adjusted for inflation. To see the debt to GDP ratio since 1929, go to National Debt by Year

U.S. GDP by Year Since 1929 Compared to Major Events

Year Nominal GDP (trillions)Real GDP (trillions)GDP Growth RateEvents Affecting GDP
1929$.105  $1.057    NADepression began.
1930$.092    $.967  -8.5%Smoot-Hawley.
1931$.077    $.905  -6.4%Dust Bowl.
1932$.060    $.788-12.9%Hoover tax hikes.
1933$.057    $.778  -1.3%New Deal.
1934$.067    $.862 10.8%U.S. debt rose.
1935$.074    $.939   8.9%Social Security.
1936$.085  $1.061 12.9%FDR tax hikes.
1937$.093  $1.115   5.1%Depression returned.
1938$.087  $1.078  -3.3%Depression ended.
1939$.094  $1.164   8.0%WWII. Dust Bowl ended.
1940$.103  $1.266   8.8%Defense increased.
1941$.129  $1.490 17.7%Pearl Harbor.
1942$.166  $1.772 18.9% 
1943$.203  $2.074 17.0%Defense spending tripled.
1944$.225  $2.239  8.0%Bretton Woods.
1945$.228  $2.218 -1.0%WWII ended. Recession.
1946$.228  $1.961-11.6%Budget cuts.
1947$.250  $1.939  -1.1%Cold War began.
1948$.275  $2.020   4.1%Recession.
1949$.273  $2.009  -0.5%NATO. Fair Deal.
1950$.300  $2.184   8.7%Korean War.
1951$.347  $2.360   8.1% 
1952$.368  $2.456   4.1% 
1953$.390  $2.571   4.7%War ended. Recession.
1954$.391  $2.557  -0.6%Dow returned to 1929 high.
1955$.426  $2.739   7.1% 
1956$.450  $2.797   2.1% 
1957$.475  $2.856   2.1%Recession.
1958$.482  $2.835  -0.7%Recession ended.
1959$.523  $3.031   6.9%Fed raised rates.
1960$.543  $3.109   2.6%Recession.
1961$.563  $3.188   2.6%JFK's deficit spending ended recession.
1962$.605  $3.383   6.1%
1963$.639  $3.530   4.4%
1964$.686  $3.734   5.8%LBJ's Medicare, Medicaid.
1965$.744  $3.977   6.5%
1966$.815  $4.239   6.6%Vietnam War.
1967$.862  $4.355   2.7% 
1968$.943  $4.569   4.9%Moon landing.
1969$1.020  $4.713   3.1%Nixon took office.
1970$1.076  $4.722   0.2%Recession.
1971$1.168  $4.878   3.3%Wage-price controls.
1972$1.282  $5.134   5.2%Stagflation.
1973$1.429  $5.424   5.6%Gold standard ended.
1974$1.549  $5.396  -0.5%Watergate.
1975$1.689  $5.385  -0.2%Recession ended.
1976$1.878  $5.675   5.4%Fed lowered rate.
1977$2.086  $5.937   4.6% 
1978$2.357  $6.267   5.6%Fed raised rate to 20% to stop inflation.
1979$2.632  $6.466   3.2%
1980$2.863  $6.450  -0.2%Recession.
1981$3.211  $6.618   2.6%Reagan tax cut.
1982$3.345  $6.491  -1.9%Recession ended.
1983$3.638  $6.792   4.6%Tax hike and defense spending.
1984$4.041  $7.285   7.3%
1985$4.347  $7.594   4.2% 
1986$4.590  $7.861   3.5%Tax cut.
1987$4.870  $8.133   3.5%Black Monday.
1988$5.253  $8.475   4.2%Fed raised rates.
1989$5.658  $8.786   3.7%S&L Crisis.
1990$5.980  $8.955   1.9%Recession.
1991$6.174  $8.948  -0.1%Recession.
1992$6.539  $9.267   3.6%NAFTA drafted
1993$6.879  $9.521   2.7%Balanced Budget Act.
1994$7.309  $9.905   4.0% 
1995$7.664$10.175   2.7%Fed raised rate.
1996$8.100$10.561   3.8%Welfare reform.
1997$8.609$11.035   4.5% 
1998$9.089$11.526   4.5%LTCM crisis.
1999$9.661$12.066   4.7%Glass-Steagall repealed.
2000$10.285$12.560   4.1%Tech bubble burst.
2001$10.622$12.682   1.0%9/11 attacks.
2002$10.978$12.909   1.8%War on Terror.
2003$11.511$13.271   2.8%Iraq WarJGTRRA.
2004$12.275$13.774   3.8% 
2005$13.094$14.234   3.3%Katrina. Bankruptcy Act.
2006$13.856$14.614   2.7%Fed raised rates.
2007$14.478$14.874   1.8%Bank crisis.
2008$14.719$14.830  -0.3%Financial crisis.
2009$14.419$14.419  -2.8%Stimulus Act.
2010$14.964$14.784   2.5%ACADodd-Frank.
2011$15.518$15.021   1.6%Japan earthquake.
2012$16.155$15.355   2.2%Fiscal cliff.
2013$16.692$15.612   1.7%Sequestration.
2014$17.428$16.013   2.6%QE ends.
2015$18.121$16.472   2.9%TPP. Iran deal.
2016$18.625$16.716   1.5%Presidential race

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