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U.S. Economy Grows At 3.5% Annual Rate In The Third Quarter

This puts to rest any worries that the economy was slipping back into recession after shrinking earlier this year, but worries about growth in the rest of the world remain.

Posted on October 30, 2014, at 9:02 a.m. ET

A man pushes his shopping cart down an aisle at a Home Depot store in New York in this file photo taken July 29, 2010.
Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

A man pushes his shopping cart down an aisle at a Home Depot store in New York in this file photo taken July 29, 2010.

The world economy may be slowing down, but the U.S. is growing steadily.

In the third quarter of this year, the U.S. economy expanded at a 3.5% annual rate, the Commerce Department said today. That's after a 4.6% annual expansion in the second quarter and a 2.1% contraction in the first quarter that had some people worried the U.S. economy's post-recession growth had slid to a halt. Economists were expecting a 3% annual growth rate for the quarter.

The strong number is in stark contrast to the rest of the developed world. In Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe, the government has cut its own projections of economic growth for the rest of 2014 and for 2015 to 1.2% and 1.3% respectively.

The U.S. growth number is not an outlier to other domestic economic data. The economy created 248,000 news jobs in September and the unemployment rate dipped to 5.9%. In the last three months, there has been an average of 224,000 new jobs created, which helped give the Federal Reserve confidence yesterday to announce the end of its massive bond-buying program — known as quantitative easing — that it started in September 2012.

The growth number was also consistent with more recent data showing the economy improving and the job market healing. Initial claims for unemployment benefits were 287,000, a slight increase from the week before. However, the four-week moving average, which jumps around less than any one week's number, was 281,000, the lowest since May 2001, according to Bloomberg. The Labor Department also said that four-week moving average for the number of insured unemployed people of 2.38 million was the lowest since January 2001.

According to data collected by Bloomberg, the second and third quarters of this year have seen the fastest economic growth for any consecutive quarters since 2003.

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