Martin Crutsinger

WASHINGTON: The U.S. economy grew only modestly in the first three months of the year. Consumer spending increased at a slower pace than previously estimated while businesses investment was growing faster than previously thought.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy grew at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the January-March quarter. That was identical to the government’s estimate a month ago although the components were altered. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, was growing at a 2.5 percent rate, slightly below the previous 2.7 percent estimate while business investment was stronger.

Economists believe economic growth in the nearly completed April-June quarter will also come in around 1.9 percent, a modest pace not strong enough to make a significant improvement in unemployment.