WASHINGTON – The United States’ economy grew at a solid annual rate of 3 percent in the third quarter of 2017, just slightly below the 3.1 percent expansion in the previous quarter, the government said on Friday.
The Commerce Department’s estimate of gross domestic product growth was its first of three for the July-September period.
The 3 percent expansion in the third quarter exceeded forecasts by economists, who had been expecting annual growth of around 2.6 percent.
It marks the first time since 2014 that the US has posted growth of 3 percent or higher for two consecutive quarters.
The GDP expansion was driven by a 2.4 percent increase in consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of US economic output, and 3.9 percent growth in non-residential fixed investment – a measure of investment spending by businesses.
The economy grew at a healthy clip despite the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey, which forced the temporary closure of oil refineries in the southern state of Texas, and Hurricane Irma, which mainly affected the southeastern state of Florida.
US President Donald Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, has vowed to bring about sustained economic growth rates of between 3 percent and 4 percent annually by boosting infrastructure spending and sharply lowering the corporate tax rate.
The Republican-controlled Congress has passed a budget resolution that clears the way for lawmakers to approve a tax-code overhaul with only a simple majority.