Third quarter GDP rises by 3.1 percent, but what does it mean?

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) readings for the third quarter of 2012 and, according to the results, the U.S. economy grew by a modest 3.1 percent during that period.

News sources reporting on the subject stated that the average economist prediction was around 2.8 percent, signifying that GDP expansion is moving at a slightly faster clip than expected. However, other independent analyses of the data have pointed to several troubling signs within the BEA study that could suggest further problems for the United States.

Of that 3.1 percent growth, government expenditures accounted for roughly 0.75 percent. On the lower end of the spectrum, fixed investment made up just 0.12 percent during the same period. Improvements in the exported goods and services composite also collapsed, falling from an increase of 5.3 percent during the second quarter of 2012 to just 1.9 percent. Total exports contributed 0.38 percent to the final GDP figure.

These figures, while still subject to future revision, suggest that economic imbalances are beginning to form following years of government support in a number of industries including defense, energy and finance. Superstorm Sandy, which dealt a serious blow to the Northeast region of the United States, was also stated as a contributing factor in the BEA report.

The Commerce Department's study is yet another sign that investors and those approaching retirement should protect their vital sources of income during a period of economic uncertainty. In these situations, it's important to come up with solutions that will stem any potential losses in the future. To learn more, visit and download a "Free Game Plan Report" today.