Accessibility links

Breaking News

US Economy Shrank in Early 2015

FILE – Pedestrians bundle up in Boston, Massachusetts, in January. An unusually rough winter helped depress the U.S. economy in the first quarter of 2015.

The U.S. economy shrank in the first three months of 2015, as unusually foul winter weather hurt economic activity, the strong dollar made it harder to sell American-made goods in other nations and low oil prices meant less investment in drilling.

Friday's report from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis said the gross domestic product declined at an annual rate of 0.7 percent during the first quarter.

That is a sharp downward revision from a first estimate that showed a slight amount of growth in January, February and March. Officials routinely revise GDP estimates as more complete data become available.

The economy grew at a modest pace in the last few months of 2014, and many economists say current data indicate the economy will resume growth soon.

"While the evidence of a second-quarter rebound hasn't been overwhelming, we still think that the outlook for the economy is very encouraging," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note, according to The Associated Press.

Economists predict steady increases in employment and lower gas prices will spur consumer spending. The U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to a seven-year low of 5.4 percent, the AP noted.

And though the auto club AAA reports the average price at the gas pump has climbed to $2.74 a gallon, up from just over $2 in January, it’s still almost a dollar below the $3.65 of a year ago.