The U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the economy grew at a lackluster pace of 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. While the figure was unchanged from the initial estimate last month, it represented a marked slowdown from the 3.5 percent growth reported in the third quarter.
Consumer spending was stronger than first thought, however, up .5 of a percentage point to 3 percent, even as state and local government spending declined slightly. Consumer spending is an important economic indicator because it’s the biggest driver of the U.S. economy.
Overall GDP growth was just 1.6 percent for all of 2016, the weakest in five years. Since the recession ended in 2009, annual growth has averaged 2.1 percent.
GDP, or gross domestic product, is the broadest measure of a country’s economic health and represents the total value of all goods and services produced over a period of time.
During the presidential election campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump promised to double economic growth to 4 percent through a program of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and reduction in regulations. Many economists say that may be overly optimistic, given the aging of the U.S. population and declining productivity.