The U.S. grew at its fastest clip in two years during the third quarter, echoing other signals of improvement in the world’s largest economy.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, grew at a 2.9 percent pace during the three months that ended in September, up from 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent rates in the first and second quarter, respectively, according to the U.S. Commerce Department Bureau of Economic Analysis.
If you’re counting, the U.S. has posted a record 72 consecutive months of job growth. Coupled with other indications of improvement, the latest GDP numbers underscore the fact that the U.S. economy on the whole is not the smoldering, jobless, post-industrial hellscape that you might imagine if you listen to one particular presidential candidate.
The details of the GDP report were good too. Spending on automobiles energized spending on durable goods — longer-lasting products like appliances and cars. Durable goods spending rose at a 9.5 percent annualized pace, the second straight quarter above 9 percent.
But the big story of the third quarter was America’s secret economic weapon: soybeans. Soybean exports surged as U.S. farmers took advantage of gaps in the global market opened up by poor harvests in Brazil and Argentina.
That helped drive exports growth up to a 10 percent annual rate, the highest level since the end of 2013.