The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.6% annual rate in the third quarter, ending the streak of back-to-back contractions that raised fears the country had entered a recession.
Why it matters: Gross domestic product got a boost from trade dynamics, but the underlying details — including weaker housing and decelerating consumer spending — point to an economy that’s slowing.
- The first estimate of GDP, released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, will be revised in the coming months as the government gets more complete data.
- The report comes on the heels of negative GDP growth during the first half of the year. In the January through March period, the economy contracted at a 1.6% annual rate. In the second quarter, the economy shrank at a 0.6% annualized pace.
Between the lines: The latest GDP report is among the final major economic data releases before the midterm elections, where voters have ranked the economy as a critical issue.
- The labor market is solid, with the unemployment rate at the lowest level in over 50 years. But soaring inflation has eaten away at Americans’ wage gains.
The backdrop: The Federal Reserve is trying to engineer an economic slowdown in a bid to crush high inflation. It has swiftly raised borrowing costs five times this year, with another big increase likely ahead at its upcoming policy meeting next week.
What they’re saying: “For months, doomsayers have been arguing that the US economy is in a recession and Congressional Republicans have been rooting for a downturn,” President Biden said in a statement. “But today we got further evidence that our economic recovery is continuing to power forward.”