WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy grew a little faster than first thought in January, February and March, as new data showed more strength in consumer spending and exports.
The Commerce Department said Thursday the world's largest economy expanded at a 1.4 percent annual rate in the first quarter – two-tenths of one percent faster than first thought, a rate some experts called disappointing. Economists routinely revise these figures as more complete data become available.
Donald Trump promised during the presidential campaign that he would be able to boost economic growth to three percent or higher, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that target will not be met, either this year or in 2018. However, to the extent the administration wins approval of health care, tax reforms and regulatory changes, Mnuchin said he and Trump are confident that the economy can eventually can grow at a rate of three percent “or higher.”
Meantime, IHS Markit Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh and analysts at the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta say growth is likely to get significantly stronger once data come in from the April-June quarter.
A separate Labor Department report said 244,000 Americans signed up for unemployment benefits last week – a slight increase from the prior week, but still low enough to indicate a healthy job market.
The unemployment rate, which comes from a different study and is reported monthly, stands at a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.