The BEA’s preliminary estimate for annualized U.S. GDP growth in the third quarter of this year is an anemic 2 percent. The release points to federal-government expenditures (especially defense), personal consumption, and residential fixed investment (basically home renovations and repairs). The second quarter’s growth was revised down from an annualized 1.5 percent to 1.3 percent.
Growing at 2 percent is quite weak and isn’t enough to put a dent in unemployment, but the number is strong enough that it should tamp down talk of the economy actually slowing (that said, this number will almost definitely be revised).
If you’re looking for an analysis of the political implications of today’s number, though, The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent tweets: “GDP at 2% — tough to beat an incumbent in a growing economy.” Tell that to the incumbents who enjoyed above 2 percent growth for all of 2010.