Economy grew 2.2 percent during the first quarter

The U.S. economy grew at a slower pace during the first quarter of this year as gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.2 percent, according to The Washington Post.

The first-quarter figure is down compared with the fourth quarter of 2011, when GDP increased 3 percent. However, growth is expected to recover to about 3 percent for 2012 as stronger job growth leads to more consumer spending.

Consumer spending increased 2.9 percent during the first quarter, with much of the growth stemming from robust growth in auto sales.

Government purchases fell at a 3 percent annual rate during the first quarter as there was a sharp drop in defense spending. Business investment dropped to an annual rate of 2.1 percent. Investment in equipment and software rose at a 1.7 percent annual rate, which is the slowest pace since mid-2009.

Although the 2.2 percent increase in the economy during the first quarter marks the 11th quarter GDP has expanded since the deep recession ended in June 2009, gains have been far below the usual gains coming out of a deep recession.

However, many economists predict stronger growth during the second half of the year because they believe hiring will continue to improve. A growth rate of 3 percent in 2012 would be almost double the 1.7 percent annual rate in 2011.

Date : 4/30/2012