U.S. gross domestic product rose a revised 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter -- an improvement from the initially estimated 0.4 percent contraction, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday.

However, although the growth rate was an improvement, it still marked the slowest pace of growth since the first quarter of 2011. The economy must grow at a much faster rate to lower the nation's high unemployment rate.

Thursday's estimate was the second of three for the quarter: The U.S. Commerce Department revises its economic statistics as more data becomes available to the government.

Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected the economy to grow 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter.