US GDP growth in the first quarter of 2011 slowed to an annual rate of 1.8 percent, compared to a rate of 3.1 percent in fourth quarter 2010 and 3.7 percent in first quarter 2010.
It was slightly below the consensus estimate.
The growth rate of 1.8 percent reflects positive contributions from personal consumption, private inventory investment, exports, and non-residential fixed investment.
Drags on the growth rate included federal government spending, local government spending, and imports.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis said in summary: “The deceleration in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected a sharp upturn in imports, a deceleration in PCE [personal consumption expenditure], a larger decrease in federal government spending, and decelerations in non-residential fixed investment and in exports that were partly offset by a sharp upturn in private inventory investment.”
In late 2010, economists were more optimistic about 2011's growth rate due to Obama's tax compromise with the Republicans and the monetary support frpm QE2.
However, the combination of lower-than-expected economic data, global turmoil, and worries about the budget deficit have led economists to lower their expectations and led to the 2011 first quarter growth rate to decelerate to 1.8 percent.