Economic growth picks up the pace, boosting Obama campaign

Economic growth picked up pace in the third quarter, giving President Obama's campaign a boost with just more than a week until the election. 

The economy expanded at a 2 percent annual rate from July through September, up from the anemic 1.3 percent in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Consumer spending, which represents 70 percent of all economic activity, expanded at a 2 percent annual rate, up from 1.5 percent growth in the April-July quarter.

Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney have sparred over the condition of the nation's economy throughout the presidential campaign, most intently during a trio of debates this month where the candidates detailed how they would help bolster growth. 

Romney has vowed to create 12 million jobs in the White House and called the most recent growth numbers “the latest round of discouraging economic news.”

“Last quarter, our economy grew at only 2 percent, less than half the 4.3 percent rate the White House projected after passing the stimulus bill. Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay. This is what four years of President Obama's policies have produced. Americans are ready for change — for growth, for jobs, for higher take-home pay. Paul Ryan and I will deliver it.”

The final update on the condition of the economy before the election will arrive on Nov. 2., when the federal unemployment figures for October are released. The nation's jobless rate fell below 8 percent for the first time during Obama's presidency in September, and both campaigns will make the final employment report part of their messaging.

The economy has expanded for 13 straight quarters, although growth has lagged behind expectations.

The federal government increased spending by 9.6 percent in the third quarter, the first rise in more than two years, compared with a 0.2 percent decrease in the second quarter. Defense spending, meanwhile, expanded 13 percent after dropping 0.2 percent in the prior months.

Exports, which have lifted growth, fell for the first time in about three years last quarter, down 1.6 percent after an increase of 5.3 percent in the second quarter.