The beginning of the year was not just bad for the United States economy: It was, on paper at least, the worst quarter since the last recession ended five years ago.The Commerce Department revised its estimates of first-quarter gross domestic product Wednesday to show that the economy contracted at a 2.9 percent annual rate. A combination of shrinking business inventories, terrible winter weather and a surprise contraction in health care spending drove the first-quarter decline, which is the worst since the first quarter of 2009, when the economy shrank at a 5.4 percent rate.
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