The US economy expanded by a solid 2.3 percent in 2019, although that was slower than growth in 2018, according to the government’s initial estimate released Thursday.
The slowdown in the $21 trillion economy last year came amid worsening trade friction, especially President Donald Trump’s confrontation with China, which created uncertainty that made businesses hold off on investments, as well as reducing exports and raising costs for inputs.
But consumers remained upbeat and continued to spend and buy homes, which offset weaker business investment along with government spending, according to the Commerce Department data.
Even so, the slowdown from the 2.9 percent expansion in 2018 keeps growth far from Trump’s promised target of 3.0 percent or higher.
Business investments — a category known as “nonresidential fixed investment” — slowed sharply last year, rising just 2.1 percent after the 6.1 percent gain in 2018.
And exports were flat, reflecting the hit from the trade wars as well as the crisis at Boeing, which has halted production of its top-selling 737 MAX after two deadly crashes led to its grounding in March 2019.
In the final three months of the year, gross domestic product rose 2.1 percent, the same pace as in the third quarter and better than economists had forecast.