U.S. Economy Edges Upward

The U.S. economy might not be headed for a second recession, but it isn't growing fast enough to put a dent in the high unemployment level, either. New data from the Commerce Department shows the economy expanding at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the third quarter of this year, the period from July through September. That's almost twice the growth rate in the April-June quarter. Economists predict a similar rate for the fourth quarter, which means unemployment will stay essentially level. The economy was lifted by a sharp rise in consumer spending over the summer—triple the rate from the spring—as people spent more on cars, furniture, health care, and air conditioning during an unseasonably hot summer.