US economic growth slowed to its lowest level in three years in 2019 – but a senior Trump official brushed off “doom and gloom” over the figures.
GDP rose by 2.3% last year – missing the administration’s 3% target for a second year in a row – according to data from the commerce department.
It was down from 2.9% in 2018.
The figures suggested Mr Trump’s $1.5tr tax cut package had provided only a temporary boost to the world’s biggest economy.
The moderate pace of growth appears to undermine Republicans’ claims that the scale of expansion would pay for the tax cuts – which are expected to help push the federal budget deficit to $1.02tr this year.
Image: Mr Trump has targeted a 3% growth rate
Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross brushed off the slowdown.
He said: “Since the beginning of this administration, critics have predicted doom and gloom for the American economy.
More from Business
“They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.”
He said Mr Trump “continues to unleash incredible growth in the American economy”, blaming the Boeing crisis over the 737 MAX and the strike at car giant General Motors for holding it back.
The data comes a day after the US Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and its chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank expected “moderate economic growth” to continue.
That growth has been supported by the Fed’s three rate cuts last year.
Image: Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said critics were ‘wrong then and wrong now’
But Mr Powell also pointed to emerging risks including the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Meanwhile, the president’s phase-one trade deal with Beijing has eased fears that a trade war could push the US into a downturn.
However, economists think the effects will be limited as tariffs remain in effect on $360bn of Chinese imports.
The annualised pace of growth in the US in the fourth quarter was 2.1%, unchanged on the third quarter.
Growth was supported by solid but slower consumer spending and an improvement in the trade deficit.
That offset a further drop in business investment and a slowdown in businesses re-stocking.
Under Mr Trump, GDP growth has fallen well short of his campaign targets but unemployment has reached a 50-year low.
Source : Sky News