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February 2020 - Overall Economy

The U.S. economy maintained steady growth as 2020 began: initial estimates showed that real GDP grew by 2.3% in 2019, and a stellar labor market and steady consumer spending underpinned solid economic growth prospects. However, January also brought new global headwinds to the U.S. economy, including the global coronavirus outbreak.

Overall Economy Indicator Table

As expected, the U.S. economy grew at a moderate pace in 2019, with final Q4 data showing a 2.1% annualized growth rate. As a result, the initial estimate for total 2019 real GDP growth is a healthy 2.3%. However, the composition of Q4 GDP growth was different from expectations, as outlined in the chart below:

Overall Economy Summary Graph
  • A temporary collapse in imports (-8.7% q/q, caused by drops in U.S. demand for imported consumer goods and automotive parts) was responsible for over 70% of the increase in real GDP
  • Business investment was a much larger drag on growth than expected after a sharp drop in December capital goods orders
  • Consumers spent less than expected in Q4. Consumer spending only contributed 1.2 percentage points to growth instead of the expected 1.6 percentage points

As Q1 2020 economic indicators began to be released, the economy remained strong and poised to absorb potential economic shocks, even from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. labor market was stellar in January, adding 225,000 jobs (9,000 of which were travel jobs) and keeping unemployment under 4%. More importantly, wage growth moved above the 3% mark, meaning that consumers were better prepared to meet an estimated 2.5% y/y increase in prices in January. In addition, the manufacturing sector escaped its slump by meeting new demand orders and consumer confidence remained high to start the year.


A healthy domestic economy, with solid growth in employment and wages, bodes well for the travel industry in early 2020. Meanwhile, the potential impact of the coronavirus on the U.S. economy and the travel industry is being monitored closely.

Consumer Indicators

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Consumer Indicator Table

Business Indicators

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Business Indicator Table

Travel Industry Indicators

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Travel Industry Indicators Table

Other Resources

U.S. Travel Updates

U.S. Travel recently updated its Travel and Trade fact sheet based on the latest 2019 data released from Department of Commerce.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Toolkit: Industry resources available, including recommended messaging to travelers and the media as well as links to the latest news and guidance from official health organizations and government sources.

Travel Facts & Figures: Quick overview of statistics on travel-related topics.

The Debrief

Preparing for Destination Capitol Hill – Tuesday, March 10th 2:45-3:30pm EST

U.S. Travel's public affairs team will provide an overview of current legislative priorities and will arm you with specific asks to take to your Destination Capitol Hill meetings. Register for the webinar here. If you haven't registered for DCH yet, you can do so at U.S. Travel's website.

U.S. Travel
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