The U.S. economy expanded at an annual 2.3% pace in the third quarter, up from the prior estimate of 2.1%, according to updated data released by the Commerce Department Wednesday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast that third-quarter gross domestic product would remain unrevised.
Growth in the first half of the year averaged a 6.5% annual rate. The economy slowed in the third quarter as a result of the delta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVI-19.
Consumer spending was revised to a gain of 2.0% annual rate in the second quarter from the prior estimate of 1.7%. That was the slowest since the depths of the pandemic in the same quarter of 2020.
At the moment, economists are forecasting a pickup in growth in the fourth quarter. Household spending is expected to pick up sharply. GDP data for the fourth quarter won’t be released until the end of January.
The big unanswered question is how much the rapid spread of the omicron variant will slow the economy in the final weeks of December and into the first quarter. Answers remain illusive but economists are cautious, noting that the U.S. has not done a stellar job eradicating the delta variant.