This was announced by the ministry of commerce on friday in an initial estimate. Economists had mostly expected growth of 2.5 percent. In the last quarter of 2011, the economy had made a strong final spurt, growing by three percent.
Despite the monitoring, however, many experts spoke of an overall positive development: they see signs of a "sustainable pace" in the economic recovery.
The growth in gross domestic product (gdp) in the first quarter was driven primarily by an unexpectedly strong 2.9 percent increase in consumer spending, up from 2.1 percent in the final quarter of 2011. This is the highest increase since the fourth quarter of 2010. Private consumption accounts for about 70 percent of GDP.
According to the ministry of commerce, the economy also benefited in the first quarter from increases in house construction and car production. On the other hand, a drop in government spending had a steaming effect. In addition, companies invested more in equipment and inventories.
"This was a healthy quarter," the business agency bloomberg quoted christopher low, a top economist at FTN financial in new york. "Consumer spending has increased. We are moving in the direction of a sustained expansion, but it is too early to declare victory."
All in all, there have been increasing signs in recent days of a further, but moderate, recovery in the US economy. On wednesday, the central bank raised its growth forecast for this year to between 2.4 and 2.9 percent. Previously, there had been talk of 2.2 to 2.7 percent. The fed also expects better unemployment figures in the short term than previously assumed. In the longer term, however, she is still somewhat skeptical.
The crisis-ridden U.S. Real estate market – a key pillar of the economy – also seems to be on the upswing. According to a release from the national association of realtors on thursday, home sales in march were at their highest level in two years.
US federal reserve chairman ben bernanke, however, continued to urge caution due to "significant downside risks. The recovery from the recession of 2008 and 2009 is still "frustratingly" slow," he says. In particular, the unemployment rate of 8.2 percent is far too high by american standards. The fed therefore intends to maintain its de facto zero interest rate policy until the end of 2014. Further monetary policy cuts to breathe new life into the economy are not off the table either.