WASHINGTON: The US economy grew slightly faster than originally reported in the first three months of the year, on stronger consumer spending and exports, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
But even with the upward revision making gross domestic product (GDP) growth two-tenths higher than last month’s estimate, the first quarter of President Donald Trump’s administration was still comparatively sluggish at 1.4 percent.
Based on a fuller set of data, the slightly rosier new figures surpassed the consensus forecast, but the growth pace still slowed sharply from the final three months of 2016, when the world’s largest economy expanded by 2.1 percent.
But economists say first quarters in recent years have seen below-average growth, and expect the pace to accelerate in the current quarter. The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank currently forecasts much faster 2.9 percent growth for the April-June period. On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to push US growth to 4 percent, though his administration now is targeting 3 percent growth and is banking on the acceleration to pay for sweeping tax cuts.
Critics, however, say such rapid growth is unrealistic and any deep tax cuts, if approved by Congress, are unlikely to pay for themselves.
Though consumer spending was held down by several factors — including a drop in spending on home heating during an unusually warm winter and falling mobile phone plan prices — the new estimate showed a rebound, revising the increase up a half-point to 1.1 percent.