News ID: 321913
Published: 0405 GMT May 27, 2022

U.S. economy shrank by 1.5% in Q1 but consumers kept spending

U.S. economy shrank by 1.5% in Q1 but consumers kept spending
BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

The U.S. economy shrank in the first three months of the year even though consumers and businesses kept spending at a solid pace, the government reported Thursday in a slight downgrade of its previous estimate for the January-March quarter.

Last quarters drop in the U.S. gross domestic product – the broadest gauge of economic output – does not likely signal the start of a recession. The contraction was caused, in part, by a wider trade gap: The nation spent more on imports than other countries did on U.S. exports. The trade gap slashed first-quarter GDP by 3.2 percentage points, AP reported.

And a slower restocking of goods in stores and warehouses, which had built up their inventories in the previous quarter for the 2021 holiday shopping season, knocked nearly 1.1 percentage points off the January-March GDP.

Analysts say the economy has likely resumed growing in the current April-June quarter.

The Commerce Department estimated that the economy contracted at a 1.5% annual pace from January through March, a slight downward revision from its first estimate of 1.4%, which it issued last month. It was the first drop in GDP since the second quarter of 2020 – in the depths of the COVID-19 recession – and followed a robust 6.9% expansion in the final three months of 2021.

 

Painful grip of high inflation

 

The nation remains stuck in the painful grip of high inflation, which has caused particularly severe hardships for lower-income households, many of them people of color. Though many U.S. workers have been receiving sizable pay raises, their wages in most cases havent kept pace with inflation. In April, consumer prices jumped 8.3% from a year earlier, just below the fastest such rise in four decades, set one month earlier.

Still, by most measures, the economy as a whole remains healthy, though likely weakening. Consumer spending is still solid: It grew at a 3.1% annual pace from January through March. Business investment in equipment, software and other items that are intended to improve productivity rose at a healthy 6.8% annual rate last quarter.

And a strong job market is giving people the money and confidence to spend. Employers have added more than 400,000 jobs for 12 straight months, and the unemployment rate is near a half-century low.

 

 

   
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