US economy grew at 2.4 percent clip in first quarter

Still, the government’s latest numbers found that consumer spending — which accounts for two-thirds or more of the economy — grew at a 3.4 percent rate in the first quarter, fueling the GDP rise.

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That’s 0.2 percentage points higher than Commerce first estimated and comes after Washington allowed the two-percentage point cut in the payroll tax to lapse at the start of the year.

Commerce’s numbers also illustrated the improvements in the housing market, with construction increasing at a 12 percent rate.

But decreased government spending at all levels tempered some of those gains, Commerce reported. Federal, Defense, and state and local spending all dropped in the first quarter, with Defense plummeting 12.1 percent and federal spending rolled back by almost 9 percent.

Those drops were still less severe than in the fourth quarter, when the economy grew at 0.4 percent rate.

Commerce originally estimated first quarter GDP at 2.5 percent.