The U.S. gross domestic product grew by 3 percent in the third quarter, according to new statistics released Friday-a big win for President Donald Trump, who was repeatedly told by economists that his growth target of 3 percent was unrealistic if not impossible.
More than eight years since the Great Recession officially ended, the economy is still posting consistent gains - in the job market, in business investment, in consumer spending and corporate earnings. Companies are restocking. An improving global economy is boosting USA exports.
The BEA's advance estimate showed that the US economy expanded at an annualized rate of 3 percent in the September quarter, coming above consensus expectations of 2.5 percent. It was the strongest two-quarter showing since 2014. They predicted the economy would slow down to a 2.4 percent growth rate in the third quarter, according to the Wall Street Journal's survey of economists. The administration was quick to hail the GDP report as evidence that Trump's economic program was already helping to lift the economy.
The Commerce Department report is sure to be cited by the Trump administration as an indication its pro-business policies are wielding results.
The skepticism about Trump's 3 percent was somewhat justified. And economists predict growth will continue until at least May, 2018, which would make the current expansion the second-longest in history. Many analysts believe annual growth in the current October-December quarter will amount to a rate of around 2.7 percent.
U.S. Travel said that numerous hurricane-related job losses were due to employees being off payrolls or otherwise unable to work during the storms because they had evacuated or because their establishments were not open for business due to power failures and other effects of the hurricanes.
Harvey made initial landfall in Texas on August 25, and Irma blitzed Florida on September 10.
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The Commerce Department estimated that storm-related damage to fixed assets, such as homes and government buildings, totalled more than $131bn (£100bn). Outside of the areas directly affected by the hurricanes, there are a few signs of weakness.
The 3 percent annual growth rate for third quarter GDP and the 3.1 percent pace in the second quarter followed a much weaker 1.2 percent annual increase in the January-March quarter.
Third-quarter outlays by businesses for equipment grew at an 8.6 percent annualized pace, nearly matching the 8.8 percent rate of the previous three months.
But the destruction brought on by the storms was no match for the increase in consumer and business spending. Inventory investment also made a considerable contribution to growth, contributing 0.7 percentage points to the headline figure.
Growth in consumer spending slackened, most likely due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Residential construction declined. But trade added 0.4 percentage point to growth, with exports growing briskly while imports fell.
On Thursday, the GOP-controlled House passed a proposed budget that would provide for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade.
Trump is trying to push through a wide-ranging package of tax cuts which he and his supporters claim will stimulate a boom in growth.