US economy grows at 2.3 percent in 2019

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.3 percent pace in 2019, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the lowest rate of growth in Donald Trump's presidency.

The rate was a fall from 2.9 percent the previous year and below the 2.4 percent growth level in 2017.

Slowing global growth paired with an unpredictable trade war both took their toll on growth. But increased government spending helped prevent a steeper fall.

A significant decline in investment growth also contributed to the lower growth last year. The increase in gross private domestic investment fell from 5.1 percent in 2018 to 1.8 percent in 2019. Critics of the 2017 GOP tax law have noted that it was supposed to push economic growth up by stimulating such investment.

Trump came to office promising sustained economic growth of 3 percent, but the economy is expected to slow further in 2020.

Still, the economic expansion that followed the Great Recession continued uninterrupted, and paired with a historically low unemployment rate and a soaring stock market, it is likely to boost Trump's chances at the ballot box in November.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the economy grew at 2.1 percent, the same as the previous quarter but roughly a point higher than the same quarter in 2018.

Thursday's figures comprise the first official government estimate of 2019 growth, but the BEA will release a revised estimate incorporating new data in late February before settling on a final figure in late March.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it would hold interest rates steady as inflation remained below the target rate and employment remained robust.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters rates were unlikely to change absent a significant economic shift.

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