U.S. GDP growth slows sharply in third quarter

The Delta variant pummeled the U.S. economy. That's clear from the latest data out from the Commerce Department on Thursday.

Gross domestic product grew at its slowest pace in more than a year in the most recent quarter, as cases of the highly-contagious strain surged. Government data show GDP rose at a 2% annualized rate, a sharp slowdown from the 6.7% in the previous quarter.

Another drag on growth: strong inflation fueled by shortages of goods, as the health crisis continues to disrupt global supply chains. Higher prices stifled consumer spending, which makes up more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

Spending grew just 1.6% --- a far cry from the robust 12% pace in the second quarter. Consumers cut back on everything from new cars to air travel and dining out.

But there are signs that economic activity has since turned up. The summer wave of infections has subsided. Consumer confidence has picked up.

And fewer Americans are filing jobless claims. The Labor Department reported Thursday new claims for unemployment benefits last week dropped to its lowest level since mid-March of 2020.

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