The economy grew at only a 1.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of last year, the slowest pace in three years, amid belt-tightening by consumers facing spiraling energy costs.
Even with the feeble showing from October through December, the economy registered respectable overall growth of 3.5 percent for all of 2005 – a year when business expansion was undermined by devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes.
The Commerce Department report, released Friday, offered the latest figures on gross domestic product, the best measure of the country’s economic standing.
The 1.1 percent growth rate in the fourth quarter marked a considerable loss of momentum from the third quarter’s brisk 4.1 percent pace. The fourth-quarter’s figure – lower than the 2.8 percent pace economists were forecasting – was the weakest performance since the final quarter of 2002, when the economy expanded at just a 0.2 percent rate.