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US Economic Growth Speeds Up Slightly

  • Jim Randle

Workers walk past boxes to be shipped inside of an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey, Nov. 27, 2017.

The world's largest economy shook off the impact of several hurricanes and grew a bit faster than first thought in July, August, and September.

On Wednesday, U.S. government experts said the economy expanded at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, which is three-tenths of a percent faster than their first estimate. Officials routinely update economic statistics as more complete data become available.

Joey Ellis adds to his armful of items while shopping for deals at a J.C. Penney store, Nov. 24, 2017, in Seattle. Black Friday has morphed from a single day into a whole season of deals, so shoppers may feel less need to be out.
Joey Ellis adds to his armful of items while shopping for deals at a J.C. Penney store, Nov. 24, 2017, in Seattle. Black Friday has morphed from a single day into a whole season of deals, so shoppers may feel less need to be out.

The improved performance of the gross domestic product or GDP was partly the result of a healthy U.S. job market, which supports the consumer spending that drives most economic activity. Growth was also helped by a fall in the value of the U.S. dollar and a pick up in global growth both of which boost U.S. exports.

The outgoing head of the U.S. central bank, Janet Yellen, told a key congressional committee Wednesday that the outlook is for continued growth and a strengthening job market.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on the U.S. economic outlook, before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Nov. 29, 2017.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on the U.S. economic outlook, before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Nov. 29, 2017.

She also made it clear that the Federal Reserve is likely to raise its key interest rate slightly in mid-December.

The Fed slashed interest rates to record lows near zero during the recession in a bid to boost economic growth by making it cheaper to borrow money to build factories and make other investments that could boost employment. As the economy recovered, officials have gradually boosted rates, but they remain below historic averages.

Keeping rates too low for too long risks sparking a high rate of inflation that could harm the economy. But inflation remains stubbornly below the two percent rate that many economists say is best for U.S. economic growth.

Jerome Powell, President Donald Trump's nominee for chairman of the Federal Reserve, testifies during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, Nov. 28, 2017.
Jerome Powell, President Donald Trump's nominee for chairman of the Federal Reserve, testifies during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, Nov. 28, 2017.

Coping with inflation, growth, unemployment, and congress will probably soon be the job of Jerome Powell, the person President Donald Trump picked to replace Yellen when her term ends early next year. In Tuesday's confirmation hearing, Powell expressed views on interest rates very similar to Yellen's.

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