US economy 'growing stronger'
Obama welcomes latest data, but economists say stronger GDP needed to tackle job losses.
Last Modified: 01 May 2010 02:34 GMT
Obama welcomed the latest figures but said that more American jobs need to be created [AFP]

The US economy is in a "much better place" than it was a year ago, Barack Obama has said, welcoming the US GDP figures showing a third straight quarter of economic growth.

The US president's comments on Friday followed the release of data showing that the US economy grew at 3.2 per cent in the first quarter of the year, in a further hopeful sign of recovery from the longest and deepest recession since the 1930s.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said the latest figures showed that the "economic heartbeat is growing stronger".

"The economy that shrank for four quarters in a row has now grown for three quarters in a row – and that growth has been a condition for job growth," he said.

"There are going to be more ups and downs along the way, but today's news is another sign that we're on the right track"

Barack Obama,
US president

But he cautioned that while the latest data marked "an important milepost" on the US path to recovery, "it doesn't mean much to an American who has lost his or her job and can't find another".

His comments reflected the concerns of many analysts who fear that, while positive, the current rate of growth is not enough to recover the eight million jobs lost since the financial crisis began.

The unemployment rate currently stands at 9.7 per cent, and economists say the economy will have to grow by at least five per cent for all of 2010 just to lower the average jobless rate for the year by one percentage point.

Pointing to the high number of jobless, Obama said the US economy still had "a long way to go on the road to recovery".

"There are going to be more ups and downs along the way, but today's news is another sign that we're on the right track."

Spending boost

While relatively strong, the 3.2 per cent GDP growth for the first quarter of 2010 was weaker than the previous quarter, when the economy grew at 5.6 per cent.

A large part of the growth was accounted for by a jump in US consumer spending which was up 3.6 per cent in the first quarter.

It was the strongest showing since early 2007 - before the economy fell into a recession.

That marked a big improvement from the fourth quarter, when consumer spending grew at 1.6 per cent.

Consumers spent more on home furnishings and household appliances, recreational goods and vehicles, clothing and at bars and restaurants.

But economists have warned warn that consumers will be wary of increasing their spending amid the high unemployment rate and expectations that it will remain elevated in the months ahead.

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