Commerce Department reports 3.2% GDP growth

Marketplace Staff Jan 28, 2011
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Commerce Department reports 3.2% GDP growth

Marketplace Staff Jan 28, 2011
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The nation’s economy grew by 3.2 percent in the last three months of 2010. For the year — that growth was just under 3 percent. That’s according to a Commerce Department report out minutes ago.

Jill Schlesinger is editor at large at CBS/MoneyWatch. As she is every Friday, she’s with us live from New York. Good morning Jill.

JILL SCHLESINGER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: This is growth, right? 3.2 percent for the last quarter. How does this stack against other years?

SCHLESINGER: Well you know you look at the post-war average and that’s been about 3.3 percent. And it sure is better than the negative rates we saw two years ago. But you know interesting — it’s also stronger than the total growth rate for 2006, and that’s when the housing boom was really chugging along. So pretty good performance here.

CHIOTAKIS: We thought the economy was going along at a nice clip in ’06 right?

SCHLESINGER: Absolutely.

CHIOTAKIS: You’ve looked a little deeper at these numbers though right? What morsels do we take from this figure?

SCHLESINGER: Yeah, I thought this was kind of interesting. We actually did this on our own. Government growth was actually down on both the federal and local levels. That means the private sector did the heavy lifting last quarter. And consumption was up better than expected — up 4.4 percent. It was a really good quarter for car sales and so on that level, I think the numbers are actually a little bit better than the big broad headline you’ll see tomorrow morning in the newspapers.

CHIOTAKIS: So people were buying a lot of stuff last year. Alright, 3.2 percent for the quarter. 2.9 percent, I believe for the year. Positive growth. My question is — where are the jobs, Jill?

SCHLESINGER: You and the rest of America wants to know that. I mean it’s good growth, it’s just not enough to spur a massive increase in hiring. You know, remember, why do companies hire when there’s consistent demand for their goods and services? And so far this recovery has been really spotty. We’ll have one good quarter, it’s followed by a weak quarter. That throws business’s off and they really don’t know how to plan for the future. So we need to see a bunch of quarters in a row where things are strong.

CHIOTAKIS: Look into your crystal ball, do we see some job growth this year?

SCHLESINGER: Definitely this year. I don’t know if it’s strong enough to make people happy.

CHIOTAKIS: Jill Schlesinger from CBS/MoneyWatch in New York. Jill, thanks.

SCHLESINGER: Great to be with you.

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