US economy slowed to 2% rate last quarter amid COVID, supply chain issues

Slowdown attributed to spike in COVID-19 cases that began near start of the quarter, ongoing supply chain problems.

Updated: October 28, 2021 - 11:41am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Commerce Department said Thursday the U.S. economy slowed sharply to a 2% annual growth rate in the July-September period, marking the weakest quarterly expansion since the recovery from the pandemic recession began last year.

The slowdown is attributed to the spike in COVID-19 cases that began near the start of the quarter and ongoing supply chain problems that appear to have worsened recently.  

The department estimated that the country's gross domestic product — its total output of goods and services — declined from  6.7% in the second quarter and 6.3% in the first quarter, according to the Associated Press.

The 2% annual growth last quarter fell below expectations and would have been even weaker if not for a sharp increase in restocking by businesses, which added whatever supplies they could obtain, the wire service reports.

Economists remain hopeful for a bounce-back in the current October-December period, with confirmed COVID cases declining, vaccination rates rising and more Americans venturing out to spend money. Most economists think GDP is rebounding to an annual growth rate of 6% or more this quarter, according to the wire service.