Economy Shows Some Positive Signs With GDP Growth, Unemployment Decline

( The American economy made some headways in its path toward recovery over the summer, exceeding analysts’ expectations even.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. gross domestic product grew by a record 33.1% seasonally-adjusted rate between July and September. That’s the fastest growth rate since the U.S. government began tracking GDP data on a quarterly basis back in 1947.

That’s quite the sharp increase, and it’s better than many economists had predicted prior to the report being released. Much of the reason for the quick uptick is, of course, the country re-starting the economy after the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns in the spring.

While it’s certainly a great sign that the economy bounced back so strongly in the third quarter, there are still a ways to go. In terms of actual GDP data (not seasonally-adjusted), GDP grew by 7.4% from the second quarter to the third quarter, but it dropped 9% between the first quarter and second quarter.

Compared to the end of the fourth quarter last year, the economy still remains roughly 3.5% smaller now than it was then.

Other slightly positive economic news was released Thursday morning, too. The Department of Labor reported first-time unemployment claims totaled 751,000 last week. While that is still a very high number, it’s a drop of 40,000 claims from the week before.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program reported 360,000 people filed claims for the first time last week. That was an uptick of 15,000 from the prior week.

The count for continued unemployment claims dropped 709,000 from the week before, and totaled 7.8 million. This figure counts the number of people who have applied for jobless benefits for at least two straight weeks.

While that number on its own may sound impressive, it’s deceiving. A good portion of that drop-off is due to the fact that people no longer qualify for unemployment benefits, as they have exhausted the benefits their state offers to them.

Most states typically offer unemployment benefits for 26 weeks. With no added relief from the federal government in the form of an economic stimulus package, they no longer are receiving unemployment benefits. And without the ability to get a job, they have to figure out their finances some other way.

Some states have extended their unemployment benefits program during the pandemic. However, as the unemployment rate has continued to improve, some of these states are ending that extension.

Compared to before the pandemic, the labor market in the United States was down 10.7 million total jobs as of September.

While there are certainly positive signs in the economy, the country at large is still holding its breath to see what happens in the final quarter. For many businesses, especially those in retail, the last quarter of the year is key to their success. In a year that’s seen a lot of turmoil, it could prove vital to the long-term sustainability of their business.

But, with virus numbers increasing across the country, some worry that more lockdowns or at least restrictions on business could be ahead.