US economic growth slowed to 1.3 percent in second quarter

The U.S. economy grew at a much slower clip — 1.3 percent — than initially estimated earlier this year. 

The slowing economy triggered the Federal Reserve's decision earlier this month to launch a new stimulus program and could be a drag on President Obama's reelection chances. 

The new figures are down from the already weak 1.7 percent growth initially estimated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The new figures were released on Thursday. 


In the first quarter, the economy grew at a 2 percent rate. 

The severe drought in the Midwest led to a drop in farm inventories and was the biggest drag on the figure. A slowdown in consumer spending and exports, combined with a rise in imports, also weighed on growth.  

Analysts argue that economic growth needs to be above 2 percent to lower the unemployment rate, which remains north of 8 percent, as it has been for almost all of Obama’s presidency.

On Wednesday, the nation's chief executives downgraded their expectations for growth to 1.9 percent for the year, down from last quarter’s estimate of 2.1 percent, according to the Business Roundtable. 

Businesses are reining in investment and slowing hiring until Congress can sort out a list of tax and spending issues known as the fiscal cliff. Without action, tax rates on most households will rise in January and more than $1 trillion in spending cuts will begin to be implemented. 

While the slow growth is a problem Obama, the White House did see more positive signs from the economy that could be boosting voters' mood heading toward Election Day. 

Consumer confidence hit a seven-month high, according to one report released this week, and a recovery in the housing market appears to have taken root.

Republicans have faulted Obama for failing to generate a more robust recovery, while Democrats have countered that despite the slow growth, the economy is headed in the right direction. 

They also argue that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is pitching recycled policies that put the United States into this economic jam.