The U.S. economy grew by 3 percent in the last quarter of 2011, which was the strongest growth in a year and a half. The economy experienced a 1.8 percent gain in the prior quarter, according to the Commerce Department, who reported the numbers March 29.
Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke said he expects U.S. economic growth to return to its normal rate of 3 percent a year. Over the past century, U.S. economic growth has averaged about 3 percent a year. Since the recession ended in 2009, the economy has averaged about 2.5 percent growth.
The economy has also added an average of 245,000 jobs per month from December through February. And the unemployment rate has fallen by almost a full percentage point since last summer. It currently stands at 8.3 percent, the lowest level in 3 years. Stronger hiring is expected to continue this year.
Additionally, the number of new unemployment claims fell to 359,000 last week, its lowest level in four years. The numbers suggest that March is another solid month of hiring.
Stronger hiring should boost consumer spending, which is the largest contributor to economic growth. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic growth.
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