Reade Pickert
July 27, 2023

  • Household spending tops estimates, business investment robust
  • Latest data likely add to hopes that US can skirt a recession

US economic growth unexpectedly picked up steam in the second quarter, boosted by stronger-than-forecast consumer spending and robust business investment.

Gross domestic product rose at a 2.4% annualized rate after a 2% pace in the previous three months, the Commerce Department’s initial estimate showed Thursday. Consumer spendingincreased at a 1.6% pace after surging at the start of the year.

The Federal Reserve’s preferred underlying inflation metric advanced at a slower-than-expected 3.8% pace.

Indicator Actual Estimate
GDP (QoQ, SAAR) +2.4% +1.8%
Personal consumption (QoQ, SAAR) +1.6% +1.2%
Core PCE price index (QoQ, SAAR) +3.8% +4%


The US economy is in better shape than economists had expected it would be just a few months ago. While forecasters are split on the odds of a recession, a strong labor market, sturdy consumer spending and now easing inflation have fueled hopes that the US will avoid a downturn.

The Fed staff is no longer forecasting a recession, Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday after the central bank raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point.

Still, headwinds persist with the Fed’s benchmark interest rate at a 22-year high and some signs of consumer strain bubbling.

The personal consumption expenditures price index grew at an 2.6% annualized pace in the April to June period, the smallest advance since the closing months of 2020. Excluding food and energy, the index rose at the slowest pace in more than two years. June data will be released Friday.

The persistent strength of the jobs market remains a key source of support for the economy. Separate data out Thursday showed applications for unemployment benefits retreated to the lowest level since late February. Continuing claims, which can offer insight into how quickly out-of-work Americans are able to find a new job, also declined.