Washington, D.C. The economy grew a little faster over the summer than the government first thought. That modest pickup wasn’t nearly enough to significantly lower the nation’s high unemployment rate, and the Federal Reserve doesn’t expect the economy to improve much over the next couple of years.
The economy expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. That was up from the 2 percent pace initially estimated, and better than the 1.7 percent growth rate in the April-June quarter.
Stronger spending by U.S. shoppers and better overseas sales of U.S. goods were the main forces behind an upward revision.
Still, the hiring picture hasn’t improved much — even with U.S. companies reporting their best quarterly profits after taxes on records dating back to 1947. After-tax profits climbed to $1.22 trillion in the July-September quarter, according to the Commerce report.
The nation’s unemployment rate has been stuck at 9.6 percent unemployment rate for the past three months. The Fed’s latest projections suggest that won’t change much for a few years.
The Fed predicts roughly 2.5 percent growth and between 9.5 percent and 9.7 percent unemployment for the rest of this year. Those are both downgraded forecasts from its June projections.
Growth will strengthen over the next three years, but not enough to bring unemployment back down to more normal levels of around 5.5 percent to 6 percent, according to the Fed’s forecasts.