(AP) — The U.S. economy
grew at a solid 6.4% annual rate in the first three months of this year, laying the groundwork for what economists predict will be the strongest year for the economy in terms of growth, driven by strong consumer spending.
The Commerce Department
reported Thursday that growth in the gross domestic product
, or the total output of goods and services in the United States
, remained unchanged from two previous estimates, following fourth-quarter growth of 4.3%.
Economists predict that GDP growth will accelerate to a 10% annual rate or higher in the current April-June quarter, with the economy growing at a 7% annual rate for the entire year.
That would be the best showing since a 7.2% increase in 1984, when the economy was emerging from a deep recession caused by high interest rates imposed by the Federal Reserve in order to halt a period of high inflation in the 1970s.
According to some analysts, growth could exceed the 1984 level and reach 7.7% this year, the best performance since 1951.
The government's third and final look at first-quarter GDP was released on Thursday.
Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity, increased at an annual rate of 11.4% in the first three months of the year, slightly higher than the 11.3% growth estimate made a month ago.
The increase in spending reflected increases in goods purchases, led by auto sales, as well as increases in spending on services, led by food
services and travel
accommodations, two areas that have benefited from the economy's re-opening as vaccination
rates have risen.
investment increased at a strong 11.7% rate, exceeding the previous estimate of 10.8% growth, while government spending increased at a 5.7% rate, slightly less than the 5.8% increase predicted last month.