GDP contracted by 1 percent in first quarter

 

The nation’s economy contracted by 1 percent in the first quarter of the year, the first time that's happened since early 2011.

The 1 percent contraction was much deeper than the Commerce Department's initial estimate of 0.1 percent growth.

ADVERTISEMENT
Most observers believe the severe winter weather contributed to the anemic showing, but they are sure to add pressure on the White House and congressional Democrats in a midterm election year.

The economy was held back by slower business inventory growth, reduced business investment, and a sharp drop in exports.

Exports decreased 6 percent in the first quarter compared with an increase of 9.5 percent in the fourth, while imports increased.

Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity, increased at a 3.1 percent rate, more than expected. But the bulk of the increase went toward paying utility bills during the cold winter months.

During the final three months of last year, the economy grew at a 2.6 percent pace, and some economists are optimistic that second quarter growth will rebound to upward of 4 percent as consumers pick up spending and the housing sector accelerates its expansion.