Explaining Southern California's economy

U.S. economy grows at a stronger pace in the third quarter

Labor Day Apparel - 12

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A worker moves finished fabrics at the Antex Corporation warehouse, which has operated in Los Angeles since 1973. Overal economic activity in the U.S. grew by a better-than-originally-estimated 3.1 percent in the third quarter.

The U.S. economy expanded at a pace of 3.1 percent in the third quarter, according to revised data released Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The growth in third quarter real GDP — the total economic output of the U.S. economy — has been revised up steadily since earlier this year. Today's 3.1 percent is more than full percentage point higher than the initial assessment of the economy by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. A second revision also pushed the number higher, to 2.7 percent.

In a nearly $16 trillion economy, there's a major difference between growing at 2 percent and growing at over 3 percent.

Economists have recently argued that 2 percent U.S. GDP growth could be a new normal for the economy as it emerges from the Great Recession. Historically, the economy has grown at a faster rate. But last year, it expanded at only a 1.7 percent annual pace, and since the financial crisis, it hasn't seen quarters in which GDP has grown at the typically 5-6 percent pace a recovering economy usually enjoys.

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Why Black Friday can't save us from the fiscal cliff

"Black Friday" Marks Start Of Holiday Shopping Season

Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Marking the start of the holiday shopping season, 'Black Friday' is one of American retailers' busiest days of the year.

Now that Black Friday 2012 is in the history books, we can all start arguing over whether it lived up to the hype. Forbes' Tom Van Riper cites a Deutsche Bank analyst who says that the results were basically flat compared with last year. CBS News sees it a little differently.

Regardless of how the big day ultimately works out, there are some inevtiable questions — given our continued sluggish recovery from the Great Recession — about whether the consumer can somehow rescue the economy. That could be too much to ask of the retail sector, which makes up less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP, as I noted on "AirTalk" ahead of Black Friday and its more recent offspring, Black Thursday. 

Others disagree. Last week, the L.A. Times ran a macro/microeconomics-mash-up-story about the Black Friday shopping frenzy and what it might mean for the overall economy, beyond the bottom line of retailers. Here are the critical paragraphs:

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