As the coronavirus pandemic recedes and government relief kicks in, fresh evidence of the economy’s revival is expected Thursday morning when the government releases its estimate of first-quarter growth.
Experts are looking for a pickup in activity after the economy’s tepid performance in the fourth quarter, when an increase in coronavirus cases and tightened restrictions hampered business and consumer spending.
The consensus of analysts polled by Bloomberg is that the report will show gross domestic product expanded 1.6 percent, up from 1.1 percent in the final three months of 2020. That is equivalent to an annualized rate of 6.7 percent.
The pickup in vaccination efforts — 43 percent of Americans have had at least one shot — combined with $1,400 stimulus payments to most Americans has set the stage for a strong rebound, with even faster growth expected in the months ahead.
“We’re running on all cylinders in terms of economic activity,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. “People are anxious to get out and return to their normal lives, and there’s pent-up demand.”
Overall economic activity should return to prepandemic levels in the current quarter, Mr. Anderson said, while cautioning that it will take until late 2022 for employment to regain the ground it lost as a result of the pandemic.
Still, the labor market does seem to be catching up. Last month, employers added 916,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent.
Tom Gimbel, chief executive of LaSalle Network, a recruiting and staffing firm in Chicago, said: “It’s the best job market I’ve seen in 25 years. We have 50 percent more openings now than we did pre-Covid.”
The new data should also provide clues to what’s driving growth, with the components behind the expansion changing as life gradually returns to normal.