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United States Department Of Commerce
Latest United States Department Of Commerce Items
A report revealing the first decline in consumer spending since the Great Recession shocked Wall Street investors Tuesday and raised fears that the economy could fall into a double-dip recession.
The economy slowed in the first six months of 2011 to its weakest pace since the recession ended. High gas prices and scant income gains forced Americans to sharply pull back on spending.
Smack in the middle of the debt-ceiling crisis comes word that the economic situation is worse than everyone thought. New Commerce Department figures show the gross domestic product (GDP) growing at an anemic 1.3 percent rate in the second quarter of 2011. Even more alarming, the initial first-quarter 1.9 percent figure was sharply downgraded to a scant 0.4 percent. If the second-quarter rate is later reduced that much, it would signal that the country is in a recession. Most Americans suffering during this historic downturn wouldn't be surprised.
The economy inched ahead at a 1.3 percent annual growth rate last spring, held back by soaring gasoline prices and disruptions in manufacturing caused by the March earthquake/tsunami in Japan.
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since early April, a sign the job market may be healing after a recent slump.
Fewer Americans bought new homes in June, evidence that the housing market remains weak.
Builders broke ground on more single-family homes and apartments in June, helping the battered construction industry gain a little life after a dismal spring.
Consumers spent more on cars and in big chain stores in June but falling gas prices held back retail sales.
A mixed slate of reports Thursday showed the economy is being held back by high gas prices and sluggish hiring.