US: Economy Advanced 6.6% from April to June

August 26, 2021

The United States said Thursday its economy grew at an annualized 6.6% rate in the April-to-June period as the world’s largest economy continued its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis said the second quarter reading was a tenth of a percentage point higher than last month’s advance estimate and was up from the 6.3% annualized advance in the January-to-March period.

The agency said the steady growth reflected the number of businesses that were reopening in the second quarter and continued government financial assistance to combat the worst effects of the pandemic.

Some economists are predicting that the U.S. economy could slow in the second half of 2021 as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps through the country and hospitalizations surge again.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported that 353,000 jobless workers made first-time claims for unemployment compensation last week, up 4,000 from the week before.

The figures for the last two weeks are the lowest since the pandemic swept through the U.S. in March 2020 but remain well above the 218,000 weekly average in 2019. The jobless claims have fallen steadily but unevenly since topping 900,000 a week in early January.

Filings for unemployment compensation have often been seen as a current reading of the country’s economic health. But other statistics are also relevant barometers.

In July, the U.S. added 943,000 jobs, the seventh biggest month of job creation in U.S. history and followed 938,000 in June. The unemployment rate has now dropped to 5.4%, still a couple of percentage points higher than before the pandemic started.

In all, the U.S. lost about 22 million jobs in the early months of the pandemic and now has recovered 16.7 million of them.

The size of the U.S. economy — nearly $23 trillion — now exceeds its pre-pandemic level as it recovers faster than many economists had predicted during the worst of the business closings more than a year ago.

How fast the growth will continue is an open question.

Political disputes have erupted in numerous states between conservative Republican governors who have resisted imposing mandatory face mask and vaccination rules on schools and businesses in their states, while some education and municipal leaders are advocating tougher rules to try to prevent the spread of the delta variant.

The rate of new vaccinations had been falling in the U.S. but now is increasing as more people see others in their communities hospitalized from the virus and their lives endangered. Full government approval this week of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may also convince some vaccination skeptics to get inoculated.

Nearly 63% of U.S. adults have now been fully vaccinated, but when children are included, slightly more than half of the U.S. population of 332 million has received shots.

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