On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a report chock full of weak growth figures and worrisome economic signals.
The gross domestic product (GDP) dropped from last quarter's 3.0
percent to an anemic 1.9 percent. Over half of first-quarter growth
came from automobile sales. When automobiles are removed from the
calculation, the GDP grew at just 0.7 percent.
Second-quarter growth estimates of 2.0 percent growth, therefore, may be overly optimistic.
The government lowered its previous forecasts
for consumer spending and export growth, suggesting the economy had a
bit less momentum as it entered the second quarter than previously
Consumer spending, which
accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, increased at a
2.5 percent rate in the first quarter, rather than the previously
reported 2.7 percent pace.
With retail sales falling in April and May, consumer spending for the second quarter may prove softer.
The number of Americans receiving benefits
under regular state programs after an initial week of aid stands at 3.3
million, a decline of just 15,000 individuals.
The U.S. Department of Commerce defines the
gross domestic product as "the output of goods and services produced by
labor and property located in the United States."