The US economy slowed dramatically in the first three months of the year, according to official data. GDP expanded at an annual rate of 0.7% in the first quarter - the slowest rate since the first quarter of 2014, which is unwelcome news for President Donald Trump who, during his election campaign, made a pledge to raise growth to 4%.
The US economy grew at an annual pace of 1.9% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to official figures. That was slower than the 2.2% growth rate economists had been expecting and below third quarter growth of 3.5%, which means annual GDP rose by 1.6%, the slowest since 2011 and down on 2015 when the world's largest economy expanded by 2.6%.
The US economy added 215,000 jobs in March, a little less than it did in February when 242,000 jobs were created. The unemployment rate has risen to 5% from 4.9%, which was an eight-year low, but the Labor Department said more Americans were finding jobs, which suggested a sign of confidence in the US economy. In effect this follows the report on the US economy which grew at an annualized rate of 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015s.
As anticipated by the Federal Reserve's report earlier this week, US economic growth braked sharply in the fourth quarter as businesses stepped up efforts to reduce an inventory glut and a strong dollar and tepid global demand weighed on exports.
The US economy shrank 0.7% in the first three months of 2015, compared to the same period last year. The Bureau of Economic Analysis significantly revised down its earlier economic growth estimate of 0.2%.
The U.S. Federal Reserve says it can no longer remain patient about changing rates, an indication that interest rate hikes could begin this spring. But in a news conference, Fed chair Janet Yellen said the central bank has not settled on the timing of the rate hike.
US economy added 295,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate fell to 5.5% from 5.7%, according to Labor Department figures. It was the 12th month running that the economy added more than 200,000 jobs, the longest such run since 1994.
The US economy grew at an annualised pace of 1.7% in the second quarter of the year, the Commerce Department has said. That was a faster pace than expected by economists. It was also up from the growth rate for the first three months of 2013, which was revised lower to 1.1% from 1.8%.
Gross domestic product (GDP) in the US in the last three months of 2012 has been revised from showing contraction to growth. The Commerce Department's second estimate was that the economy had grown at an annualised 0.1%. The first estimate was a 0.1% contraction.
The US Congress budget office launched on Wednesday a stern warning: massive spending cuts and tax hikes due next year will cause even worse economic damage than previously thought if Washington fails to come up with a solution.