(CNN) — Republican nominee Mitt Romney said Friday’s third-quarter economic numbers indicate sluggish growth, falling short of what President Barack Obama’s administration had anticipated when the president took office in 2009.
“Today, we received the latest round of discouraging economic news: Last quarter, our economy grew at only two percent, less than half the 4.3% rate the White House projected after passing the stimulus bill,” said Romney in a statement issued Friday after the Bureau of Economic Analysis released an advance estimate of the economy’s growth in the third quarter.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s economic health, however, showed economic growth picked up in the third quarter — boosted by strong consumer spending, an improving housing sector and increased defense spending. The GDP grew at an annual rate of 2% from July to September, the Commerce Department said Friday, faster than the 1.3% in the second quarter.
Economists surveyed by CNNMoney had predicted a 1.7% growth rate for the third quarter.
“Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay,” Romney said in the statement. “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.”
Romney’s statement comes hours before he will deliver an economic speech in Ames, Iowa.
The Obama campaign said the Commerce Department’s GDP growth report shows signs of recovery whereas Romney’s proposed economic plan would only slow the recovery and place the burden on the middle class.
“While we have more work to do, today’s GDP growth report, showing the 13th straight quarter of growth, is more evidence that our economy continues to come back from the worst recession since the Great Depression under President Obama’s leadership,” said Obama campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher, pointing to businesses adding 5.2 million jobs over two and half years and the lowest unemployment levels since when Obama took office in 2009.
“Romney’s hiding the truth because he knows his plans would punish the middle class and take us back to the same failed policies that crashed the economy and created record job losses in the first place,” said Fetcher. “There’s a clear economic choice in this election, and the American people want to move forward, not back.”
Friday’s economic number also showed residential construction accelerated at a 14% pace, an indication that housing sector may have started to recover. The impact, however, is minor because housing makes up less than 3% of the entire U.S. economy.
Federal defense spending also boosted the economy, growing at a 13% annual rate after shrinking in the three prior quarters.
Meanwhile, businesses were a bit more cautious and slowed their spending. Weak exports also weighed on growth.
CNN’s Dana Davidsen and CNNMoney’s Annalyn Censky contributed to this report.