News / Economy

US Economy Shrinks 1 Percent in First Quarter

US Economy Shrinks 1% in First Quarteri
X
Mil Arcega
May 29, 2014 9:48 PM
A harsh winter appears to have battered the U.S. economy more than first thought. The Commerce Department says the economy actually shrank a full percent in the first three months of the year - worse than initial estimates that showed the economy grew, but just barely, by one tenth of one percent between January and March. The latest estimate of gross domestic output marks the first contraction in three years. But as Mil Arcega reports, analysts are confident the slowdown is temporary.
A harsh winter appears to have battered the U.S. economy more than first thought. 

The Commerce Department says the economy actually shrank a full percent in the first three months of the year - worse than initial estimates that showed the economy grew, but just barely, by one-tenth of one percent between January and March.

The latest estimate of gross domestic output marks the first contraction in three
US GDP Change per Quarter (CLICK TO ENLARGE)US GDP Change per Quarter (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
x
US GDP Change per Quarter (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
US GDP Change per Quarter (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
years.  But, analysts are confident the slowdown is temporary.

A colder than expected winter gets much of the blame for the slowdown in U.S. productivity, but analysts say it’s more complicated than that.  

“Consumers spent at a healthy rate in the first quarter despite the nasty weather in the eastern two-thirds of the country," said Mark Hamrick, the Washington bureau chief at Bankrate.com. "It was really businesses holding back the economy."

Hamrick says businesses may have inadvertently slowed U.S. growth - reducing their stockpiles of inventory and cutting back on investments in anticipation of reduced consumer demand.

​On Wall Street, investors seemed unfazed by the disappointing news - with the major stock indexes remaining in positive territory.

Hamrick says that’s because investors are already looking forward to the rest of the year.

“We’re really more concerned about what’s happening in the current quarter on out towards the second half of the year," he said. "And it's widely believed that growth in the current quarter is really making up for, perhaps even more than making up for - that contraction in the first quarter."

Some estimates suggest the U.S. economy could grow between 4 and 5 percent in the second half of 2014. Less certain is the outlook for the housing market.  

RealtyTrac’s Daren Blomquist says home sales and prices have slowed dramatically since 2013.

“We are seeing decreases in sales volume in the first quarter and even into April, but I don’t think it’s just about the weather," he said. "I think the more fundamental issue is the low inventory."

Economists say the smaller inventories may be the result of fewer Americans losing their homes to foreclosure - along with tighter bank lending guidelines.

On the bright side, the U.S. job market continues to improve.  A new report shows the number of unemployed workers seeking government assistance fell by 27,000 this week - that's close to a seven-year low reached earlier this month.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.