US economy grows at 1.9 pct. annual rate in Q1

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the first three months of the year, slower than first estimated.

The Commerce Department on Thursday lowered its estimate for January-March growth from an initial estimate of 2.2 percent. The downward revision was largely because consumers and governments spent less than first estimated, businesses restocked more slowly, and the U.S. trade deficit grew sharply.

Analysts believe the economy is growing at a slightly faster rate this spring. They estimate growth at an annual rate of between 2 percent and 2.5 percent in the April-June quarter. Many expect the economy will maintain that pace for all of 2012, an improvement from last year’s 1.7 percent growth.

Still, growth of 2.5 percent is typically enough just to keep pace with population changes. Most economists say it takes almost twice as much growth to lower the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point over a year.

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