The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 2% in the third quarter, higher than analysts had expected.
The rebound was fuelled by higher consumer and government spending and more home building, according to US Commerce Department figures showed released on Friday in Washington.
Economists had projected gross domestic product (GDP) would rise to 1.7% from 1.3% in the second quarter.
The modest gains will be good news for President Barack Obama's re-election hopes, with his campaign painting it as proof that the economy is heading in the right direction.
His Republican challenger Mitt Romney called the new report "discouraging".
He suggested the pick-up was not sufficient to create enough jobs and improve take-home pay.
Mr Romney is focusing on the public's economic concerns heading into the final days of the campaign as polls suggest Americans say they trust him more than President Obama to handle the issue.
Consumer spending, which has the biggest impact on GDP, rose 2% in the July-to-September period, compared to 1.5% in the second quarter.
It accounts for nearly 70% of US economic activity and is vital to any long-term recovery.
Demand for new cars and technology is up, while at the same time the housing sector is continuing to recover from its worst slump in recent history.
Sales of new homes jumped 28% over the past 12 months and investment in housing and renovations surged to 14.4%.
Still, growth remains too weak to rapidly boost hiring.
"Growth came in a little higher than we had feared, largely because of the big jump in federal spending," said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics.
"But the economy is still not growing rapidly enough to create sufficient jobs to reduce the unemployment rate."
Since the recovery from the Great Recession began in June 2009, the US economy has grown at the slowest rate of any recovery in the post-World War II period.
Many analysts think growth will remain sluggish at least through the first half of 2013, with the economy starting to pick up in the second half of next year.