(CN) — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate during the third quarter, the nation’s best back-to-back quarterly growth rates in three years, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
The government said growth from July through September was revised down slightly from last month’s estimate of 3.3 percent, reflecting slightly less than anticipated spending by consumers.
The relative softness in consumer spending was offset by increased spending by state and local governments, the department said.
Regardless, the healthy growth in the third quarter followed a 3.1 percent gain in the second quarter, the first consecutive quarters that growth has topped 3 percent since 2014.
In other economic news, the Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week for the first time in five weeks.
Applications for unemployment aid increased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 245,000, the government said. The rise comes a week after applications fell to nearly a four-decade low.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, climbed 1,250 to 234,750.
About 1.9 million people are now collecting unemployment benefits, about 43,000 more than the previous week. That figure has fallen about 5 percent in the past year.