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January 20, 2020

U.S. Economy Slows in First Quarter as Exports Fall, Consumer Spending Decelerates

Burke — The U.S. economy grew at a slower pace in the first quarter of 2015, as exports declined and consumer and public spending expanded at a cautious pace.

Real gross domestic product – the value of the production of goods and services — increased 0.2 percent at seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, compared with 2.2 percent in the previous quarter, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Commerce Department.

The “second” estimate of GDP and a preliminary estimate of corporate profits for the first quarter of 2015 will be released on May 29, 2015.

With several regions experiencing severe weather, the dollar strengthened against major currencies in the first quarter, energy prices declined, while imports and exports were delayed because of labor disputes in key ports, according to the statement.

The trade deficit widened in the first quarter, reflecting a decline in goods exports. Overall exports – goods and services — fell by 7.2 percent, compared with 9.2 percent decline in the same quarter last year. Exports posted the largest growth of 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Imports rose marginally by 1.8 percent – 0.9 percent in goods and 6.3 percent in services. Imports posted the largest growth in the previous quarter with 10.5 percent.

Consumer spending that accounts for more than two-thirds of economic output, grew at a slower pace of 1.9 percent in the first quarter, down from 4.4 percent rise in the fourth quarter.  Federal government spending expanded at 0.3 percent rate, compared with 7.3 percent decline in the fourth quarter.

Personal saving as a percentage of current-dollar DPI (disposable personal income)  was 5.5 percent, compared with 4.6 percent.

Prices of goods and services bought by U.S. residents decreased 1.5 percent in the first quarter, after decreasing 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. The first-quarter decline was the largest since the first quarter of 2009.

Energy prices declined more than in the fourth quarter. Food prices also fell. Excluding food and energy, prices increased 0.3 percent in the first quarter after increasing 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

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