Today’s report shows that the economy posted its thirteenth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 2.0 percent annual rate in the third quarter of this year, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Over the last thirteen quarters, the economy has expanded by 7.2 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 10.1 percent. While we have more work to do, together with other economic indicators, this report provides further evidence that the economy is moving in the right direction.
It is important to recognize that GDP is made up of various components. Personal consumption expenditures, for example, increased by 2.0 percent at an annual rate in 2012:Q3, as compared with 1.5 percent in the previous quarter. Residential investment increased by 14.4 percent last quarter and has increased for six quarters in a row, its longest streak since 2004-2005. Federal defense spending rose 13.0 percent, federal nondefense spending rose 3.0 percent, and state and local government purchases were essentially unchanged. The severe drought, which has affected more than half of the country, subtracted 0.4 percentage point from overall GDP growth.
To strengthen economic growth and increase job creation, President Obama has proposed to Congress a plan that would help State and local governments retain and hire teachers and first responders, would assist the construction sector and economy of tomorrow by rebuilding and modernizing our Nation’s infrastructure, and would give small businesses tax cuts to encourage them to increase payroll. President Obama also proposed extending tax cuts to protect middle class families and virtually every small business owner from getting a tax increase at the beginning of next year. Extending these tax cuts would provide more certainty for the economy for 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small business owners.
Alan B. Krueger is the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.