The second estimate for Q4 GDP came in at 3.21%, a deceleration from 4.86% for the Q3 final estimate. With a per-capita adjustment, the headline number is lower at 2.60%, a decrease from 4.24% for the Q3 headline number.

Here is a chart of real GDP per capita growth since 1960. For this analysis, we've chained in today's dollar for the inflation adjustment. The per-capita calculation is based on quarterly aggregates of mid-month population estimates by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which date from 1959 (hence our 1960 starting date for this chart, even though quarterly GDP has is available since 1947). The population data is available in the FRED series POPTHM. The logarithmic vertical axis ensures that the highlighted contractions have the same relative scale.

The chart includes an exponential regression through the data using the Excel GROWTH function to give us a sense of the historical trend. The regression illustrates the fact that the current trend, since the great recession, has a visibly lower slope than the long-term trend. In fact, the current GDP per-capita is 5.9% below the pre-recession trend (2008).

The real per-capita series gives us a better understanding of the depth and duration of GDP contractions. As we can see, since our 1960 starting point, the recession that began in December 2007 is associated with a deeper trough than previous contractions, which perhaps justifies its nickname as the "Great Recession".

**Quarterly GDP Per Capita**

The standard measure of GDP in the US is expressed as the compounded annual rate of change from one quarter to the next. The real GDP growth rate is 3.2%. But with a per-capita adjustment, the data series is lower at 2.6%. The chart illustrates the 2.06% historical average (arithmetic mean) and the 10-year moving average, currently at 2.04%.

The 10-year moving average is below the historical average, illustrating that US economic growth has slowed dramatically since the Great Recession. With that said, we are currently at a level above the series average indicating that the current economic growth is on the historically faster end.

**GDP Per Capita Year Over Year**

GDP per capita, as we've seen, is a weaker series than GDP. What does it suggest about recession risk? The next chart shows the YoY change in real GDP per capita since 1960. We've again highlighted recessions. The blue show the YoY real GDP for the quarter before the recession began, and the dotted line gives us a sense of how the current level compares to recession starts since 1960. The average rate at the start of the recessions shown is 1.47%. The current real YoY GDP per capita is 2.56%, which is at or below 2 of the 9 recessions shown.

How do the two YoY series compare, GDP and GDP per capita? Here is an overlay of the two in the 21st century.

Real GDP YoY is currently at 3.09%. With a per-capita adjustment, we see that real GDP Per Capita YoY drops by about one-sixth to 2.56%.

**Other GDP updates: **Latest GDP Update and Inside Look at GDP.

Read more updates by Jen Nash