Consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased at a modest annual rate of 1.8% in the third quarter.

By Don Lee
October 30, 2014

The U.S. economy is showing steady, solid growth despite the shaky global environment, but its resilience will be tested in the coming months.

The nation’s economic output expanded at a healthy 3.5% annual rate in the third quarter, the government said Thursday, thanks to unusually strong federal spending and a sharp narrowing of the trade deficit.

Economic activity in the previous quarter had bounced up 4.6% after a brutal winter had brought a 2.1% contraction at the start of the year.

Real gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity after adjusting for inflation, has now increased at an annual rate of 3.5% or higher in four of the last five quarters. That is an acceleration from what has been a sluggish recovery since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009.

In recent months, job growth also has increased and the unemployment rate has fallen to below 6%, though there is still an unusually large number of people without jobs or stuck in part-time work.

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