The quarterly report on the gross domestic product, or GDP — the gold standard of reports taking the economy’s pulse — came out recently. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains the latest numbers.
“It was a mix of good and bad news: On the good side, the report showed the economy is still expanding, and in fact now the economic expansion is over a year old. So that is good. We are producing more; incomes are going up, on average.
“However, the annual rate of growth is rather slow. It is 2.4 percent — that is a low number, but it is certainly better than a negative number. So again by this measure — by this measure — we are now not in a recession.
“Business and government spending really are the driving forces behind the economy right now. Businesses are investing in new equipment. They are investing in technology. Government is still spending money to try to revive the economy.
“One of the big disappointments in the report is consumers are really not opening up their wallets and purses. Consumer spending is growing, but it is growing at a very slow rate: 1.6 percent on an annual basis.
“And the fear is that once businesses stop redoing their equipment and replacing their old technology — once they stop doing that, they won’t be spending like they are now. And if consumers continue to spend at a very slow rate that may make the economic recovery even slower.”