Michael Stanton-Geddes

The U.S. economy grew at a rate of 1.9 percent in 2013. This growth rate was lower than the 2.8 percent increase in 2012, but similar to the 2011 growth rate. Various factors slowed economic growth in 2013, including the U.S. federal government shutdown in early October and a decrease in private investment. U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2013 was driven by private domestic investment and increased production.

Total industrial production in the United States rose by 2.6 percent during 2013. Although industrial production increased in almost all sectors, it grew most strongly in the natural gas distribution and mining sectors, falling only in the textiles, paper, printing, and primary metal sectors. Unemployment in the United States decreased from 7.9 percent of the labor force in January 2013 to 6.7 percent in December 2013.

U.S. trade flows were affected by the relative strength of the U.S. dollar. The nominal trade-weighted value of the dollar appreciated by 1.3 percent between 2012 and 2013 relative to the currencies of the Broad dollar index, generally lowering the cost of imported inputs and making U.S. exports more expensive in foreign markets.

One key determinant of the demand for U.S. exports is the performance of other economies. Overall, other advanced economies grew at a slower rate than the United States. The average GDP growth rate for advanced economies in 2013 was 1.3 percent (table US.1). While Canada, the United States’ largest export market, matched its previous year’s growth at 1.7 percent, the United States’ second-largest export market, the European Union, experienced a slow growth rate of only 0.2 percent. (The European Union accounts for 23 percent of world GDP). In contrast, growth in emerging markets and developing economies in 2013 was stronger than U.S. growth.

Figure US.1 U.S. exports of domestic merchandise, imports for consumption, and merchandise trade balance, 2009–13

China’s economy grew by 7.7 percent, and China is the fourth-largest export destination for U.S. goods. The Developing Asia region grew by 6.5 percent on average.

The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean also grew faster than the United States, at 2.7 percent on average, although Mexico’s growth was below the mean at 1.1 percent. Mexico is the United States’ third-largest export market. Countries in the Central and Eastern European region also performed relatively well, with average GDP growth of 2.7 percent in 2013.