GDP grew by 3.2 percent in first quarter

The nation’s gross domestic product increased 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010, bolstering the Obama administration’s arguments that the economy is improving.

The jump in GDP was lower that the 5.6 percent increase registered in the last quarter of 2009, but still represents significant economic growth. It’s the third quarter in a row that the U.S. economy has expanded.

President Barack Obama is scheduled Friday morning to make a statement on the figures from the Rose Garden.

Democrats quickly hailed the news as an illustration their policies are helping the economy rapidly rise out of the recession.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement contrasted the state of the economy when former President George W. Bush left office to where it is now.

"One year after President Bush left our country mired in the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression, today's solid growth in GDP, driven by consumer spending, is a sign of progress for our economy and for the middle class," she said.

Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), the senior GOP member of the House tax-writing committee, said that while the growth is good, it “should not obscure” continued high unemployment.

The nation’s jobless rate remains at 9.7 percent; a new jobs report for April is scheduled to be released a week from Friday.

Camp said Democratic policies are suppressing the creation of jobs.

Christina Romer, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the data shows there is "no question" the economy has improved dramatically during the last year.

The growth in GDP came on the back of consumer spending, businesses stocking up on inventory and increased exports. Non-residential fixed investment also contributed to the growth, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

State and local government spending decreased, as did residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, rose.

The 3.2 percent growth is an early estimate by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis based on incomplete data. Another estimate will be released May 27.

This story was posted at 9:18 a.m. and updated at 11:10 a.m.