The US economy in 2019 grew at its slowest pace in three years, according to preliminary data from the Commerce Department.
The economy expanded by 2.3% last year, its lowest level since 2016, when growth stood at 1.6%.
The economy under President Donald Trump has been consistently strong but not electric. In its best year, 2018, the economy expanded at a 2.9% clip. In 2017, it grew by 2.4%.
The dropoff in 2019 was because personal consumption expenditures and exports fell, according to the Commerce Department. The Personal Consumption Expensditure Index, which measures goods and services consumed by individuals, rose 1.6% last year, excluding volatile components like food and energy.
In the final quarter of last year, the economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.1%, in line with the consensus forecasts of economists polled by Refinitiv, and matched the growth rate of the third quarter.
The economy’s growth slowed throughout 2019. Although the first three months of the year pushed ahead with more than 3% annualized growth, the year’s remaining three quarters were all around the 2% mark.
Economic indicators are pointing at opposing directions for future growth.
“While the housing and labor markets have been particularly positive, the auto market has been sliding and market volatility has posed some challenges, especially at the beginning of Q4. This makes today’s GDP win all the more satisfying,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group.
Real disposable income grew by 1.5% in the fourth quarter, less then in the prior three months. This could have an impact on consumption, which is the backbone of the American economy.