Economic growth improves significantly

Updated
 
Economic growth improves significantly
Economic growth improves significantly

The initial estimate on economic growth in the third quarter – July, August, and September – was an underwhelming 2 percent. This morning, revised figures point to a much healthier economy.

The economy grew at a substantially faster pace in the third quarter than first thought, powered by increases in business inventories and federal spending.

After initially saying output increased at an annual rate of 2 percent, the Commerce Department on Thursday revised its estimate to show growth of 2.7 percent in the three months that ended Sept. 30.

While businesses have remained cautious amid fiscal uncertainty in Washington and weak growth overseas, consumer spending in the United States has moved along in recent months at a healthier pace.

The 2.7 percent GDP figure is the best since the end of 2011, and the second best quarter of the last three years. Talk of a “double-dip recession,” common earlier in the year, is now nowhere to be found.

It’s also worth noting that economic growth would have been even stronger had it not been for austerity-like policies at the state and local level, where public spending has been curtailed sharply.

As for the politics, the conventional wisdom suggests President Obama won a second term in spite of a struggling economy, but in light of the stronger growth shortly before the election, it may be time to consider whether Obama prevailed because of an improving economy.

Above, you’ll find a chart showing GDP numbers by quarter since the Great Recession began. The red columns show the economy under the Bush administration; the blue columns show the economy under the Obama administration.

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Economic growth improves significantly

Updated