GDP Is Up, But Will It Stay Up?

The government’s GDP report is out, and most numbers are up, though many slightly below estimates.

The economy grew over the fiscal third quarter, with gross domestic product expanding at a 3.1 percent annual rate — one of the results that was actually higher than estimates — and real final sales increasing 2.4 percent over the quarter. Below is a Bureau of Economic Analysis/Department of Commerce graph displaying GDP growth over the past sixteen quarters.

There is some negativity about fourth-quarter results, as they may have taken a hit from Hurricane Sandy, which struck one month into the crucial quarter. Also, increased government spending and upturns in private inventories may have boosted third-quarter results, but won’t be seen in fourth-quarter results. Government spending was up 9.5 percent in the July to September period, but will likely be trimmed back in preparation for the fiscal cliff.

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Consumer spending was also up 1.6 percent, while imports fell 0.6 percent, meaning more money is exchanging hands within the United States. Domestic current production saw profits increase 7.5 percent from last year, and corporate profits were up 17.9 percent from last year. As demonstrated in the BEA graph below, corporate profits have grown in 12 of the last 16 quarters.

Unfortunately, among the increasing figures were jobless claims. Initial jobless claims increased by 17,000 last week. More fortunately, these levels are back down to pre-Hurricane Sandy levels, and could mean the labor market is improving.

For more on jobless claims, see: How Long Until We Reach 6.5% Unemployment?

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