The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported this morning that gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic activity, grew at just a 0.5 percent annualized rate in the first quarter of 2016. This follows growth in the last quarter of 2015 of just 1.4 percent, marking six months of economic growth far slower than the long-run trend. If such slow growth continues into 2016, there will be significant upward pressure on unemployment and recent gains in labor force participation will likely fade away. Today’s anemic growth numbers fully justify the Federal Reserve’s decision this week to not further increase short-term interest rates.
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