US Economic Growth Stalls – Voice of America

U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the first three months of this year.

Wednesday’s report from the Commerce Department says the gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of just two-tenths of a percent.

That is much slower than the 2.2 percent rate of the last quarter of 2014. The GDP is the sum of all goods and services produced in a nation and the broadest gauge of economic health.

Economists blame the slowdown on unusually foul winter weather and a strike that stopped shipping in the usually busy U.S. West Coast ports.

Before the latest GDP report, the National Association for Business Economics, surveyed key economists at companies across the United States and found expectations for “solid economic growth” remain intact in spite of recent “disappointing” economic data. Spokesman Ken Simonson said growth will probably resume because weather and labor problems have been resolved.

The relatively high value of the U.S. dollar also hurt the GDP because it weakened American exports and boosted imports. An expensive dollar means U.S.-made exports are more expensive on global markets, while imports are more attractive to American buyers. White House economic adviser Jason Furman says “tepid” foreign demand hurt U.S. exports and overall growth. He also said sharply falling oil prices have hurt investment in energy facilities, further crimping growth.

Furman says U.S. consumers are saving rather than spending the money they are no longer spending on gasoline. He says savings from lower energy costs could be a source of consumer spending and growth in the future.