The U.S. economy shrank at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1% in the second quarter of the year, the U.S Commerce Department reported July 31. It was the fourth consecutive quarter the gross domestic product (GDP) contracted. Four consecutive quarters is the longest recession since the government started keeping the statistic in 1947.

The slowdown was not as severe as many had expected. The 1% dip in the April through June period was a vast improvement over the 6.4% slide in the year's opening quarter. This leads many to believe the economy has bottomed and will start growing in the current quarter. GDP is the total value of goods and services the country produces.