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U.S. Economy Not Growing As Fast As Hoped

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.4% annual rate in the first quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported today (May 30).

That basically confirms what the agency said a month ago, when it released its initial estimate for gross domestic product growth in the quarter. Then, it reported the economy had expanded at a 2.5% pace.

Now, with more data and two reports about what went on in the first three months of the year, its clear that growth did not hit the 3.2% rate that economists had once expected.

But BNP Paribas SA economist Yelena Shulyatyeva tells Bloomberg News that “the economy is still OK.” She expects it will “pick up in the second half as the sequestration effect fades.” By that, she’s referring to automatic federal spending cuts that appear to have been holding growth back.

The economy barely expanded in fourth-quarter 2012, when there was growth at a 0.4% annual rate. It has, however, registered at least slight growth for 15 straight quarters.

Also today, the Employment and Training Administration reported there were 354,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week — up 10,000 from the previous week.

Since late 2011, claims have basically stayed in a range from the mid-300,000s to just under 400,000.

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