U.S. Economy Grows 2.5 Percent
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
And we begin this hour with some rare encouraging news about the economy. Those dark fears about a double-dip recession seem to be overblown. New numbers from the government today show the U.S. economy grew at an OK pace - not great, but OK - during the third quarter. And the stock market in on a tear. The Dow closed up today around 3 percent. In fact, it's on track for the biggest monthly percentage gain since 1987. Some of the enthusiasm can be tied to signs of progress in Europe.
But as NPR's Chris Arnold reports, there's also been a steady stream of more positive economic signals here in the U.S.
CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Up until recently, a lot of people were worried that the U.S. economy might be sliding backwards into another recession, but that's not looking much less likely. It turns out that the economy actually picked up some steam again over the summer. Consumers were out spending a little more money. Businesses did, too. New numbers out today show that the U.S.'s gross domestic product grew at 2.5 percent from July through September.
JOHN SILVIA: 2.5 certainly does signal there is no double-dip. There's no second recession.
ARNOLD: John Silvia is the chief economist at Wells Fargo. He says when you dig into the report, one thing that's encouraging, Americans have been buying all kinds of products and services.
SILVIA: They're buying across the board. They did buy a lot of light trucks, but service spending was up especially in the health care area, non-durable goods were up as well. So, the consumer spending was pretty broad-based and that's another good sign that it's not just one thing that's moving this economy forward.
ARNOLD: Another little talked about indicator out this week actually comes from the trucking industry. Trucks, in September, were hauling around more products and supplies, up nearly 6 percent from a year ago.
BOB COSTELLO: Trucking, we're a good leading economic indicator for recessions and we're just not showing it this time.
ARNOLD: That's Bob Costello, he's the chief economist for the American Trucking Associations, and he tracks what's called the truck tonnage index that measures basically how much stuff trucks are moving around the country.
COSTELLO: Things aren't great, but they're certainly not terrible. And in September, it was up nicely. That was - we'll take it. But it's also important what it's not showing and it's not showing that we're plunging into a recession either.
ARNOLD: So, looking ahead, the recovery will likely be slow-moving. But John Silvia is now predicting at least some more jobs for out-of-work Americans.
SILVIA: We'll probably have 9 percent unemployment through the winter. But I suspect by the spring, we'll be breaking below the 9 percent heading towards more like 8 percent. So, 2012 looks like a little bit better year.
ARNOLD: Also, inflation rose in this latest report to just a tenth of 1 percent above where the Federal Reserve wants to see it. John Silvia says even when you factor out volatile energy and food prices, inflation appears to be around 2.1 percent.
SILVIA: So, we do have inflation in the United States. It isn't roaring ahead inflation, but it is a little bit above the fed's target and it appears that right now, you do have this upward swing in terms of core inflation.
ARNOLD: John Silvia says that's probably not a big deal yet, but economists will be keeping an eye out for rising prices.
Chris Arnold, NPR News.
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