Entries in Commerce Department (21)


GDP Grew 2.5 Percent in Third Quarter

Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Commerce Department announced on Thursday that third-quarter Gross Domestic Product grew 2.5 percent, allaying fears that the economy is slipping into another recession.

Economists were expecting GDP to come in at 2.7 percent seasonally adjusted. In the first half of the year, the economy grew at an 0.9 percent pace, far too slow to generate any job growth. Unemployment has remained stubbornly high at over 9 percent.

The revised second-quarter GDP increased at an annual rate of 1.3 percent, the Commerce Department announced at the end of September. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.4 percent.

The Labor Department also announced on Thursday that initial jobless claims declined 2,000 to 402,000.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consumer Spending Rises Again in August -- But Incomes Drop

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For a second straight month, consumer spending in the U.S. rose in August, according to a new government report released Friday.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.2 percent -- or $22.7 billion -- last month, down from July's revised 0.7 percent increase.

The same report also shows that personal incomes dropped 0.1 percent, or $7.3 billion, in August.  The previous month, incomes grew slightly by 0.1 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consumer Spending in July Rises to Highest Point in Five Months

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After showing a deficit the month before, consumer spending in the U.S. rose in July to the largest increase in five months, according to a new government report released Monday.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.8 percent -- or $88.4 billion -- last month, rebounding from a 0.1 percent decline in June.

The same report also shows that personal incomes rose 0.3 percent, or $42.4 billion, in July.  The previous month, incomes grew slightly less, standing at a .2 percent gain.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Economic Growth Slows to Weakest Point Since Recession's End

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the first half of 2011 economic growth slowed to its weakest pace since the end of the recession, according to a report released Friday by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The government says the gross domestic product -- which measures the output of goods and services produced in the country -- expanded at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter, falling short of what economists had predicted.

First quarter growth was also revised down to just .4 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Housing Data Reveals New Home Sales Fell for Second Month

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Two years into the economic recovery, the housing market is still suffering, as indicated by Commerce Department data released Tuesday in Washington.

The numbers showed that sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly declined for a second month in June, Bloomberg News reports.

New home purchases dropped to 312,000 -- a three-month low -- as foreclosures, slow job growth, and lack of consumer optimism contributed to the weak housing sales, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Data revealed the median sales price of a new home rose 7.2 percent -- up from June 2010’s $235,200.

Across the country, the Northeast sales fell to an all-time low of 16 percent, in the West, 13 percent,  according to Commerce Department's findings. The Midwest saw new home purchases climb 9.5 percent, and the South saw an uptick of 3.4 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Home Construction Sees Biggest Increase in Six Months

Karl Weatherly/Digital Vision/ Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Home construction is picking up from very low levels so far this year, according to the latest figures from the Commerce Department.

The agency reported Tuesday that home construction rose 7.2 percent in March, marking the biggest increase in six months.  Building permits for future construction also rose more than 11 percent.

Robert Denk, with the National Association of Home Builders, said the numbers are improving but are still well below healthy levels.

"It's good news that they're getting better, but they're still at very low levels, and we're expecting going forward to see gradual improvement," Denk said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consumer Spending Picks Up in February

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Americans didn't spend like never before last February, but as least they spent more than they have since last October.

Unfortunately, much of their disposable income went into their gas tanks.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that consumer spending increased by 0.7 percent in February, representing the eighth consecutive month of gains.

However, when the numbers were adjusted for inflation, particularly for a whopping increase in the cost of gasoline, consumption was actually closer to 0.3 percent.

Still, higher prices at the pump didn't deter Americans from going shopping, thanks in a large part to the extra money they saw in their paychecks due to Congress slicing the Social Security payroll tax.  This has provided a cushion enabling consumers to endure the extra cost of driving to and from their favorite stores.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Housing Numbers Show Big Declines

Stockbyte/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- More bad news for the housing market Wednesday, as the Commerce Department says new home construction plunged to the lowest level since April, 2009 -- down to 479,000 homes. "Weather may have had a small amount of this, but it's so broad-based across the whole country that I don't think you can blame a lot of this on weather," said David Crowe, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President at the National Association of Home Builders.

The Commerce Department says one big problem was that new home construction plummeted in February, the second-lowest level on record. "We now have uncertainty about political unrest, we have uncertainty about energy prices, we have uncertainty about what the Congress may do about foreclosures. So I think we've just hit another one of these, 'I don't know what's going to happen, so I'm not going to do anything' periods," said Crowe.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


November Retail Sales Up More Than Expected

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Silver Bells of holiday retail rang a bit louder and clearer Tuesday as the Commerce Department released figures that showed retail sales up more than expected in November.

The government said retail sales were up 0.8 percent last month, well above the 0.6 percent increase economists had expected.

“Gains were fairly broad-based across big-box retailers, apparel stores and online vendors,” said Diane Swonk, an economist with Mesirow Financial. “We also saw more spending at the gas pump as energy prices picked up. The weak spots were electronic store sales and restaurant tabs. Middle and lower income households, in particular, tend to make trade-offs and eat out less when prices at the pump rise.”

Consumer confidence polls have suggested spending would be more conservative.

The better than expected results have some retail groups revising their expectations for the holiday season. The National Retail Federation initially thought holiday spending would be up 2.3 percent this year, but revised its outlook Tuesday morning to a 3.3 percent annual growth.

“The start to the holiday season has surpassed all expectations,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “While employment data is still a concern, we are starting to see improvement in other economic indicators that support an increase to our forecast.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


October Retail Sales Rise More Than Forecast

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Shoppers opened their purses more than expected in October, as retail sales climbed 1.2 percent, the most in seven months. The rise in consumer purchasing was the biggest gain since March, the U.S. Commerce Department said Monday. The October number was strong compared with the 0.7 percent jump most economists were expecting.

Americans are shopping again, which means the sputtering economic recovery is getting a much-needed jolt. Companies are capitalizing on the shopping spirit, offering incentives to get customers to spend. Just this week, Wal-Mart announced it will offer free shipping on some 60,000 items over the holidays.

The retail industry is on the path to hiring the most seasonal workers since 2006. In October alone, stores hired 150,900 workers, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. That's three times more jobs than last year at this time, when just 47,600 holiday jobs were added.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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