WASHINGTON (AP) _ The economy grew at a slightly less anemic rate than first thought in the Aprilne quarter, but new claims for unemployment benefits rose in midptember for the fourth week in a row, the government said Thursday.
Consumer caution held the seasonally adjusted advance in the gross domestic product to an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said, revising its previous estimate of 1.4 percent.
Separately, the Labor Department said 414,000 Americans filed applications for unemployment during the week ended Sept. 12, an increase of 15,000 partly attributed to claims from victims of Hurricane Andrew. It was the fourth consecutive rise.
Analysts expected the mostly gloomy economic news to continue between now and the Nov. 3 presidential election.
"I can't see how the impression could possibly change before the election," said economist Paul W. Boltz of T. Rowe Price Associates in Baltimore. "George Bush is stuck with (talking about) family values at this point."
Next week, the Labor Department reports on September's unemployment rate. Many economists fear the end of a federal summer jobs program for teeners and job losses from the hurricane will cause an increase from the 7.6 percent August rate.
On Oct. 27, only a week before Election Day, the government releases its first estimate of GDP in the Julyptember period. In advance, economists were expecting at best a modest improvement compared with the second quarter.
"What the numbers show is the economy is not particularly buoyant," said Paul Lally of R.H. Wrightson Associates in New York. "We're still struggling to get our head above water."
He noted that much of what growth existed in the second quarter came from an unwanted buildup in inventories as consumers cut back on purchasing. Retailers with wellocked shelves probably will order fewer goods in the third quarter, detracting from growth, he said.
The second quarter performance followed a moderate increase of 2.9 percent at an annual rate in the first three months of the year. That's considered poor for just after a recession but it still was the best growth since the early months of the Bush administration. …