US economy grew at steady 2.1 percent rate in Q4

The Boston Globe | By Martin Crutsinger
March 31, 2017

WASHINGTON — The US economy grew at a slightly faster rate in the fourth quarter than earlier estimates, as consumers ramped up spending that’s expected to fuel growth throughout 2017.

The gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, expanded at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the October-December period, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The figure is an improvement from the previous estimate of 1.9 percent. The added strength stemmed from stronger consumer spending, which offset an increased drag from trade.

Many economists project growth of around 2 percent in the current January-March quarter, but they expect greater strength as the year progresses and bullish consumers keep spending.

‘‘Consumer spending will lead growth thanks to higher incomes from more jobs and rising wages, as well as likely tax cuts,’’ said PNC economist Gus Faucher, who predicted GDP growth for all of 2017 at 2.3 percent.

That would be a significant improvement from anemic growth of 1.6 percent in 2016, the weakest showing in five years. Since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, the economy has averaged annual GDP growth of just 2.1 percent, the slowest recovery since the end of World War II.

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