Canadian Manufacturing

US economy grew at 1.7 per cent rate in April-June quarter

Commerce Department says growth was slightly better than its initial estimate of 1.5 per cent

WASHINGTON—The U.S. economy grew at a 1.7 per cent annual rate in the April-June quarter, boosted by slightly stronger consumer spending and stronger exports.

The Commerce Department said growth was slightly better than its initial estimate of 1.5 per cent.

Economists expect a little better growth in the second half of the year after seeing some improvement in July data.

But most believe the economy will keep growing at a sub-par rate of around two per cent.

Growth at or below two per cent is not enough to lower the unemployment rate, which was 8.3 per cent in July.

Most expect the unemployment rate to stay above eight per cent for the rest of this year.

A weak economy could hurt President Barack Obama’s re-election chances and help Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign.

The report on economic growth measures the gross domestic output, the country’s total output of goods and services, from the purchase of restaurant meals to construction of highways and bridges.

The report was the government’s second look at GDP for the spring quarter.

There will be a third and final estimate of second quarter GDP released next month.

The third quarter began with some promise.

Employers created 163,000 jobs in July, the most since February.

Also in July, consumers stepped up retail spending, factories produced more goods and the housing recovery continued with increases in both new and previously occupied homes.

The upward revision to second-quarter growth was largely because consumers spent at a slightly faster pace than first estimated.

Consumer spending grew a 1.7 per cent rate, better than the 1.5 per cent initial estimated.

Exports, which add to growth, were also stronger, growing at a six per cent rate.

Government spending, which has been a drag on growth for the past two years, contracted again in the second quarter at a 0.9 per cent rate.

That was an improvement over an initial estimate of a 1.4 per cent drop in government spending and reflected a much smaller dip in defence spending than first estimated.

All of the changes boosted economic output by $6.5-billion more than previously estimated, leaving total GDP at $13.56-trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in the second quarter.

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