The average growth rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) from the third quarter of 2001 through the second quarter of 2003 in the United States was about 2.6%; GDP growth rate in the third quarter was about 8%, and it was estimated to be about 5% in the fourth quarter. Many other indicators also reflected the rebounding U.S. economy—rising consumer confidence, higher retail sales, greater industrial production, and more new home starts; inflation also reached a 38-year low in December (Ahmann, 2003§). The upward trends in many sectors of the U.S. economy were shared by few of the mineral materials industries, however; output declined in most nonfuel mining and mineral processing industries. Production from metal and industrial mineral mines in 2003 was down slightly compared with that of 2002. Manufacturing of industrial minerals (nonmetallic mineral products in table 2), aluminum, and iron and steel increased slightly, but other metal manufacturing declined.