Q3 US GDP Rises Even Amid Hurricanes

29. October 2017.

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Through ill winds — literally — the U.S. economy managed to grow significantly in the third quarter, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP).

According to news from The Wall Street Journal and via data by the Commerce Department, GDP was up 3 percent on an annual basis for the three months that ended in September, a number which beat the consensus estimate of economists polled by the WSJ. The latest tally follows a 3.1 percent rate logged in the second quarter.

The growth in the U.S. economy came despite the impact of two hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, which posed a sizable negative impact on the southern U.S., including Florida and Texas, through August and September. Major swaths of businesses, large and small, were disrupted during and after the storms, including energy and agriculture verticals. Said the Commerce Department, “It is not possible to estimate the overall impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on 2017 third-quarter GDP.”

Tailwinds came from consumer spending, which now, as ever, has been among the biggest drivers of economic activity. The growth rate for consumer spending was 2.4 percent, which, though below recent trends, again comes against the backdrop of the storms’ impacts.

Exports were up 2.3 percent, while investments from businesses — known as non-residential fixed investment — gained 3.9 percent in the quarter.

In addition to the GDP numbers, pricing data shows some acceleration. The pricing index that measures personal consumption was up to a 1.5 percent annual rate for the quarter. That pace handily outstrips the 0.3 percent increase seen in the second quarter. Removing food- and energy-related costs, the pace was 1.3 percent for the third quarter. The gauge’s growth may be enough to help spur the Federal Reserve in boosting interest rates come December, said the WSJ.

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