US economy grew at tepid 1.1 percent pace in spring


The Boston Globe | By Christopher S. Rugaber
August 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy expanded at a sluggish 1.1 percent pace this spring as businesses sharply reduced their stockpiles of goods and spent less on new buildings and equipment. Yet most analysts forecast much faster growth in the summer and fall, fueled by healthy consumer spending.

Friday’s estimate is slightly below the Commerce Department’s previous figure of 1.2 percent growth as measured by gross domestic product, the broadest gauge of the economy.

Consumers offset the corporate cutbacks in the April-June quarter by spending at the fastest pace in six quarters, Commerce said Friday. That suggests steady job growth and modest pay gains are making Americans more confident and willing to spend.

‘‘The very slight downward revision … isn’t too concerning, especially given that the more recent data point to a strong rebound in the third quarter,’’ Steve Murphy, an economist at forecasting firm Capital Economics, said in a research note.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta currently forecasts growth will jump to a 3.4 percent annual pace in the July-September quarter.

Still, the economy expanded at a lackluster 1 percent annual pace in the first half of 2016, following growth of 2.6 percent last year. The sluggish first half is a stark reminder of the economy’s inability to achieve strong, sustainable growth since the recession ended seven years ago. It has been the slowest recovery since World War II, and followed the worst downturn since the 1930s. Growth hasn’t topped 3 percent for a full year since 2005.

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