U.S. economy shrank again, raising recession fears

STORY: Data out Thursday show the U.S. economy shrank in the second quarter of the year - the second straight quarterly decline, which meets the standard definition of a recession.

The Commerce Department reported GDP fell at an annualized rate of 0.9 percent last quarter, after shrinking 1.6 percent the quarter before.

The data comes a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said this:

"I don't, I do not think the U.S. is currently in a recession."

Powell is leading the central bank through a period of aggressive interest-rate hikes aimed at taming record-high inflation.

The spike in borrowing costs combined with warning signs of a slowdown could fan financial market fears of a downturn, fears Powell has tried to dampen.

"Despite these developments, the labor market has remained extremely tight, with the unemployment rate near a 50 year low. Job vacancies near historical highs and wage growth elevated over the past three months."

Other data out Thursday showed continued bright spots: The U.S. Labor Department reported weekly jobless claims dropped by 5,000 from the week prior. The weekly claim numbers are below levels that economist say could trigger a spike in unemployment.

Job growth averaged 456,700 per month in the first half of the year, which is generating strong wage gains.

The White House is vigorously pushing back against the recession chatter as it seeks to calm voters ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections that will decide whether President Joe Biden's Democratic Party retains control of the U.S. Congress.

In a statement following the release of Thursday's GDP number, Biden said it was no surprise the economy was slowing down as the Fed tried to fight inflation, adding: "We are on the right path and we will come through this transition stronger and more secure."