Thank goodness spring is here. Winter really wore down the U.S. economy.
America’s economic growth was actually negative in the first three months of 2015. Gross domestic product, the widest measure of growth, fell -0.7%, according to revised government data out Friday.
Blame the cold weather, the strong U.S. dollar and West Coast port strike — remember that — for the weak start to the year. The strong dollar is making American exports look very expensive to people in other countries.
“This was not a good picture of the U.S. economy but it is all history,” Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients. “We are seeing signs that the economy is recovering from the weak first quarter.”
The same winter blip happened last year. The U.S. economy actually contracted by -2.1% in the first quarter of 2014, but the economy came surging back as the weather improved. Many experts believe America is in for a repeat: a slow start in the winter followed by a spring and summer rally.
Rebound underway: The U.S. economy is already showing signs of life. Housing starts — the pulse of American real estate — had its best monthly gain since 1991 in April. Consumer confidence ticked up a bit recently and orders for durable goods — refrigerators, for example — jumped up too. People tend not to buy big ticket items unless they are optimistic about where their finances are headed.
Hiring is also strong. The economy added a healthy 223,000 jobs in April, a reassuring sign after March saw few job gains.