U.S. economy grew in 2018, just missing Trump's projection

It marked the fastest growth since 2015

February 28, 2019 - 10:43 am

WASHINGTON (KFTK/AP) - The U.S. economy grew by 2.9 percent in 2018, spurred by strong fourth-quarter growth, according to the Commerce Department.

That 2.9 percent falls just short of President Donald Trump's projections of three percent, but still marked the fastest growth since 2015.

The 2.6 percent GDP growth rate in the fourth quarter was the slowest since a 2.2 percent rise in the first quarter of last year. But followed two strong quarters with gains of 4.2 percent in the second quarter and 3.4 percent in the third quarter. Trump has often cited those performances as evidence that his economic program of tax cuts, reductions in regulations and tougher enforcement of trade agreements was working.

Economists believe the $1.5 trillion tax cut that Trump got Congress to approve in December 2017 did boost growth last year, along with billions of dollars in added government spending on military and non-defense programs. However, they believe the impact of the tax cuts and increased spending will be fading this year and will contribute to a slowdown in growth.

Low unemployment and a $1.5 trillion tax cut package were two major factors behind 2018's strong numbers.  But analysts fear the economy could slow in 2019, in part due to rising gas prices and the government shutdown earlier this year.

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