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The U.S. government sharply revised GDP, its measure of the American economy, downward on Friday from 3.2 percent to 2.4 percent. The latest number is less impressive, although it still falls in line with forecasts.

Many people consider GDP the final word on how the economy is doing, for better or for worse, but what does it really tell us? GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, was created in 1934 by economist Simon Kuznets as a way to measure how the United States was recovering from the Great Depression.

Watch this funnier version of an explanation of GDP:

Long after GDP had served its purpose, people continued to look to it as a measure of the state of the union, even though Kuznets himself warned it would be a mistake to do so.

Michael Green, executive director of The Social Progress Imperative, agrees. His group has been working on an alternative measure called the Social Progress Index. SPI takes into account numerous other factors in the hopes of creating a more comprehensive assessment of the country's well-being.

Click on the audio player above to learn about the Social Progress Index and how America is doing. 


Follow David Brancaccio at @DavidBrancaccio