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US Economy Bounces Back Strongly in Second Quarter

2014-10-9
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

The Commerce Department says the U.S. economy expanded at its fastest rate in more than two years. From April through June, the economy grew at a rate of 4.6 percent. That is good news following the first three-month of the year when the country's economy shrank by more than two percent.

Some economists say the second quarter growth is a sign that the U.S. economy is finally improving. Others are not so sure.


Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photograph: Reuters

A severe winter is blamed for hurting businesses and keeping Americans away from shopping centers early in the year. The sharp increase in economic activity from April to June was welcome.

But Bankrate.com financial expert Greg McBride says it is only three-month of growth. He spoke with VOA on Skype.

"It's certainly nice to see a rebound after the disastrous first quarter that we had. But as I like to say - one in a row is not a streak," McBride said.

Much depends on whether the economy continues to improve in the last six-month of 2014.

However, the sharp fall in the first three months of the year means the gross domestic product - the widest measure of the nation's economic output - is unlikely to increase more than last year's 2.2 percent growth.

Investors on Wall Street, however, have confidence in the economy. The new growth numbers pushed stock prices higher. The S&P 500 Index, an important stock market measure has reached close to two thousand points in recent weeks. That is not far from its record high of 2011 points.

David Stockton is an expert with the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He says business conditions are improving.

"I think it does suggest the U.S. economy is moving forward, it's moving forward at a moderate pace, and the condition of U.S. businesses is such that they're increasing their investment spending," said Stockton.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis or BEA said increased business spending and exports cause the increase in growth. That also could help the job market. The national unemployment rate is currently 6.1 percent. However, wages have remained mostly unchanged although there has been some job growth in the last year.

Greg McBride believes that is changing.

"The leading category for job growth here in 2014 is professional and business services, so these tend to be higher paying jobs. The job market actually has a little bit of momentum going for it - that's the good news - and has been far more consistent than what we've seen in terms of economic growth," McBride said.

And that's the Economics Report in Learning English. For more of our programs, visit our website 51voa.com. I'm Mario Ritter.