A sign in the window of a retail shoe store advertises for jobs in San Francisco, California, June 3, 2010. Reuters/Robert Galbraith

The U.S. economy shrank 2.9 percent in the first quarter, indicating far greater weakness in the world's largest economy than the previous estimate of a 1 percent contraction, the government said on Wednesday.

The weakness in gross domestic product (GDP), which broadly gauges the value of goods and services produced, was the worst since early 2009 when the recession ended.

The Commerce Department data also showed that first-quarter consumer spending rose just 1 percent, rather than the previously estimated 3 percent.

In a separate report released at the same time, the government said orders for durable goods fell 1 percent as military orders fell sharply in the first quarter.