The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis' final estimate Thursday morning.
With more complete source data about economic activity, the agency revised upward its earlier estimate of 2.7 percent growth. In the second quarter, real Gross Domestic Product increased 1.3 percent.
An increase in consumer spending and a decrease in imports were the primary reasons for the boost in U.S. productivity. Computer sales added a tenth of a point to the nation's growth during the period ended Sept. 30. Exports and upturns in private inventory investment, spending across all levels of government and residential fixed investment also contributed to the quarterly growth.
Exports of goods and services increased 1.9 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 5.3 percent in the second. Imports decreased 0.6 percent versus an increase of 2.8 percent in the second quarter.
The economic improvement may be hard to sustain as global demand cools down and companies holding back on spending and hiring because of the uncertainty associated with huge government spending cuts and tax hikes that are set to take effect unless Congress and the White House reach a deal on how to deal with the budget deficit in the next three weeks. Many economists say the automatic revenue and spending triggers could tip the country back into recession without intervention. - Eric Kulisch