Oct 28, 2021 - Economy

Economy slows in third quarter amid Delta variant

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy increased at an annual rate of 2% in the third quarter, the Department of Commerce said Thursday.

Driving the news: The gross domestic product figures for July through September come in much lower than the 6.7% increase in the second quarter, reflecting the "continued economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Department of Commerce.

  • The figures released Thursday also come in lower than the 2.8% expected by economists. Other estimates were higher: FactSet's consensus was a 3.5% increase.

The big picture: Thursday's modest GDP increase is the slowest gain since the 31.2% decline in the second quarter of 2020, when COVID-19 became a global pandemic.

  • The GDP reflects declines in residential fixed investment, federal government spending and exports, per the department.
  • Consumer spending increased at 1.6% during the third quarter, after rising 12% in the second quarter.

What to watch: Thursday's GDP estimates are based on source data that are "incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency," per the Department of Commerce.

  • A second estimate for the third quarter with more complete data will be released on Nov. 24.

Go deeper: Economists set 2021 sights lower

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