Third-quarter growth best in 11 years

The Commerce Department has revised its estimate of third-quarter growth upward to 5.0% annually – the fastest spurt in 11 years.  This comes on the heels of 4.6% annual growth in the second quarter.

The figures represent the best economic performance for two successive quarters since 2003.


GDP growth has now been revised up by a total of 1.5 percentage points since the first estimate was published in October. Big revisions are not unusual as the government does not have full information when it makes its initial estimates.

U.S. stock index futures extended their gains after the report, while U.S. Treasury debt yields rose slightly. The dollar rose to a fresh eight-year high against a basket of currencies.

The economy expanded at a 4.6 percent rate in the second quarter, meaning it has now experienced the two strongest back-to-back quarters of growth since 2003. Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth would be raised to a 4.3 percent pace.

But the pace of growth likely slowed in the fourth quarter.

In a second report, the Commerce Department said non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, was unchanged after declining 1.9 percent in October.

The continued weakness in the so-called capital goods orders is at odds with industrial production data, which has shown strong momentum in the manufacturing sector.

But a rapidly strengthening labor market and lower gasoline prices should provide the economy with sufficient momentum in 2015 and keep the Federal Reserve on course to start raising interest rates by the middle of next year.

Underscoring the economy's firming fundamentals, growth in domestic demand was revised up to a 4.1 percent pace in the third quarter instead of the previously reported 3.2 percent pace. It was the fastest pace since the second quarter of 2010.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, grew at a 3.2 percent pace, the fastest since the fourth quarter of 2013, instead of the previously reported 2.2 percent rate.

While this is great news, why are so many still looking for work?  Long-term unemployment – those without a job for six or more months – has barely budged.  Many analysts are saying that most of those who can't get jobs will never be employed at the level they were before they lost their jobs.

The recession destroyed millions of good jobs.  The jobs that have replaced them pay far less.  The White House may be celebrating this good news, but for millions of Americans who find themselves having to work two or more jobs just to stay afloat, this Christmas brings little cheer.

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