Steady as she goes for economy

first_imgWASHINGTON — There’s a good reason the U.S. economy is impressing the world right now despite a slowdown in the final three months of 2014: In a word, steadiness.Companies have been hiring at healthy rates for the past year. Layoffs hover near historic lows. Auto sales are strong. Gas prices have sunk. Congressional budget fights have faded. Americans are increasingly confident.All that fed a surge of consumer spending last quarter, offsetting weaker business spending caused in part by a pullback by oil drillers and a frail global economy.The U.S. economy as a whole expanded at a 2.6 percent annual rate, the government said Friday, down from a sizzling 5 percent gain the previous quarter. Yet consumers signaled their optimism by spending at the fastest rate in nearly nine years.“This hasn’t changed my picture on the strength and resilience of the U.S. economy,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at the Bank of the West. “Almost all the drivers of consumer spending are pointing in the right direction.”last_img read more