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U.S. economy grows nearly twice as fast in 3rd quarter

• Washington Post

Economic growth picked up in the United States in late summer, according to government data released Thursday that shows the most solid rate of expansion in a year.

Gross domestic product rose at a 2.5 percent annual pace during the July through September third quarter, the Commerce Department said, considerably better than the 1.3 percent gain in the second quarter and the 0.9 percent rate of growth for the first half of 2011.

The figure suggests that that the economy kept chugging along, steadily if not spectacularly, even amid volatile financial markets, deepening fears about a possible economic collapse in Europe, and a U.S. debt downgrade.

If there is to be a dip back into recession, as some analysts have feared, it appears it did not start in the third quarter.

But GDP, the broadest measure of economic activity, was not strong enough to represent a “catch-up” effect that could bring the unemployment rate down substantially over time. Rather, 2.5 percent is somewhere around the treading-water rate of U.S. economic growth — the approximate rate of economic expansion that would be expected, given an ever-increasing labor force and rising worker productivity, but not enough to put many of the 14 million unemployed Americans back to work.



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