Overall economy expected to show stronger growth in July-September quarter

MarketsAssociated Press

The Commerce Department issues its third and final estimate of how fast the U.S. economy grew in the July-September quarter.

FASTER GROWTH: The expectation is that growth in the gross domestic product will be revised up to an annual rate of 4.3 percent in the third quarter, according to a survey of economists by data firm FactSet.

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GDP GAINS: In its previous estimate, the government said the GDP, the economy's total output of goods and services, grew at a 3.9 percent rate, faster than its initial estimate of 3.5 percent growth in the quarter.

That third quarter gain followed a 4.6 percent growth rate in the April-June quarter. Taken together, the economy posted the strongest six months of growth in more than a decade.

In the current quarter, growth is expected to have slowed a bit, to around 2.5 percent.

The expectation for a significant upward revision in the third quarter is based on a belief that a number of sectors will show stronger growth from consumer spending to business investment and government spending.

However, some of the third quarter momentum will not be sustained in the final three months of the year and that is why economists are looking for growth to temporarily slow to around 2.5 percent.

For the entire year, economists believe the economy will grow 2.2 percent, matching the modest increase seen in 2013. But for 2015, analysts are much more optimistic, projecting growth next year of around 3.1 percent. That would be the strongest GDP growth since the economy expanded 3.3 percent in 2005, two years before the start of the Great Recession.

The 2007-2009 downturn, the worst since the 1930s resulted in millions of people losing their jobs. Since that time, the economy has struggled to regain its footing. Even after the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has turned in mediocre growth rates averaging 2.2 percent annually.

But many analysts believe growth is finally set to move into a higher gear, helped by the fact that businesses have grown confident enough to step up hiring. The country is on track to have its healthiest year for job growth since 1999. In November, there was a gain of 321,000 jobs, the biggest one-month increase in three years.

The expectation is that with more people working, household incomes will be strong enough to support solid gains in consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.