US economic growth was even worse than we thought in the April-June quarter, growing at a pace of just 1.3%, the Commerce Department announced today, down from its previous estimate of 1.7%. About half of that big revision reflected the punishing effect the summer's drought has had on farmers, as the government slashed its crop production estimate by a hulking $12 billion, the AP reports. But other areas, like exports and consumer spending, saw sluggish growth as well.
But the economic news isn't all bad. The number of first-time unemployment claims fell to its lowest level since July last week, CNN Money reports. About 359,000 people filed claims, according to the Labor Department's latest numbers. That's 26,000 fewer than last week, and a lot fewer than anyone had hoped for; one survey of economists had predicted 379,000 claims. Still, economists warn against getting too excited by week-to-week fluctuations. "There's a lot of volatility, but it hasn't broken out of its range," one said. "It's still pretty high." (Read more economic indicators stories.)