Posted: February 28, 2013
The economy barely grew in the fourth quarter of 2012, the government now says. But that's better than what it thought before — that the economy had contracted. Meanwhile, the number of people applying for jobless benefits fell last week.
It's not much of a change, but at least it's in the right direction.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning that it now thinks the economy grew at a 0.1 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2012. A month ago, BEA thought GDP shrank at a 0.1 percent annual rate in those last three months of the year.
Obviously, in an economy that now produces nearly $16 trillion worth of goods and services annually, a 0.2 percentage point revision is basically a blip.
But, the revision does mean that GDP has — technically, at least — grown for 14 consecutive quarters. Growth slowed sharply as the year ended, however, from a 3.1 percent pace in the third quarter. Economists have put some of the blame on superstorm Sandy, which hit New York, New Jersey and surrounding states hard in late October.
According to Reuters, "a slightly better performance" than first thought in exports and fewer imports led to the fourth-quarter GDP revision.
Also Thursday morning, the Employment and Training Administration said there were 344,000 first-time claims for jobless benefits last week. That was down 22,000 from the week before. Bloomberg News thinks that shows "companies were looking beyond looming government spending cuts and maintaining staffing."
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