Ben Margot / AP
Updated at. 9:51 ET
U.S. economic growth fell to a 2.1% annual interest rate in the second quarter – down from a 3.1% pace in the first three months of 2019, the Trade Department said. But the growth came a little stronger than many analysts had expected.
Export decline of 5.2% – in the midst of economic weakness in Europe and elsewhere, as well as the US trade war with China and other countries – contributed to the decline.
The department cited a number of other factors for the decline, including drop in business investment and investment in commercial property. But consumer spending jumped 4.3% in the second quarter and public spending rose 5%.
Friday's Gross Domestic Product report is a key indicator ahead of the Federal Reserve's expected interest rate cuts next week.
"Today's data provides more ammunition for those who claim the Fed should cut interest rates at the next meeting," Josh Bivens, research director at the Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement. "A toggle feed is quite clear."
But Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at the Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the economy is not so weak that it needs the Fed to cut interest rates aggressively.
"This economy is not destroyed and it does not need Fed measures to fix it," he said in a statement. Shepherdson noted that economic growth averaged 2.6% during the first half, peaking at 2.4% over the previous five years.
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The economic downturn even comes, while unemployment, at 3.7%, is at almost 50-year-old level. Over the past three months, employers have added an average of 171,000 jobs each month.
The commercial war has taken a lot of production, and Boeing's ongoing problems with the basic support of the best-selling 737 Max have also damaged the economy, analysts say.
"We already see some signs of slowing down the US economy and slowing down business investment overall," said Greg Daco, chief of US economics economist Oxford Economics , to NPR's Jim Zarroli earlier this week. Daco said that Boee's problems probably shaved about 0.1 percentage point of US growth during the second quarter.
The Trump administration has targeted a growth rate of 3% or above, citing the Republican tax cuts adopted in 2017. However, some studies have found that the tax cuts that have been made have done little to increase growth, in part because of the The benefit went to wealthy people and companies.
NPRs Chris Arnold contributed to this report.