US Consumer Spending Grows at a Slower Pace

Posted April 30th, 2012 at 11:45 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. consumer spending — the biggest part of the world's largest economy — continued to grow in March, but at a slower pace than earlier in the year.

Consumer spending drives 70 percent of the American economy, so analysts examine its pace to assess the overall health of the country's economic fortunes. The U.S. government's Commerce Department reported Monday that personal spending advanced three-tenths of a percent in March, just a third of the gain the month before.

The slower growth in consumer spending was the latest sign that the U.S. economic advance has eased somewhat.

The government reported last week that the U.S. economy grew by 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year, after advancing at a more robust 3 percent pace in the last quarter of 2011.

Two closely watched U.S. economic indicators for April — the national unemployment rate and the number of newly created jobs — are due out Friday. In March, U.S. employers added 120,000 jobs, down from more than 200,000 in several months before that.

The country's jobless rate has fallen in recent months to the 8.2 percent level recorded in March. That is still high by U.S. standards, where 5 percent is more normal. The U.S. central bank says the rate may fall below 8 percent by the end of the year, but analysts are predicting the April figure will remain unchanged.