Economic growth slowed to a crawl in the first three months of the year as a spike in gasoline, higher overall inflation and continued weakness in the housing market all took a toll on the recovery.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic health, rose at an annual rate of 1.8%, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. That's a significant slowdown from the 3.1% growth rate in the final quarter of 2010.
Most predictions for growth have fallen precipitously over the past several weeks as rising prices spooked forecasters. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney were predicting growth of 2.0% in the first quarter. But some estimates were as high as 4.3% just two months earlier.
More than half of Americans (55%) describe the U.S. economy as being in a recession or depression, even as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) reports that "the economic recovery is proceeding at a moderate pace." Another 16% of Americans say the economy is "slowing down," and 27% believe it is growing.
Public disapproval of President Barack Obama's handling of the economy reached a new high in mid-April, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll, as gasoline prices neared $4 a gallon and Washington lawmakers fought a bitter battle over the federal budget.
Some 57 percent of registered voters said they disapproved of Obama's economic management, while only 40 percent approved. That's the lowest score of his presidency.
"These numbers spell political trouble," said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the survey. "To get re-elected with a 57 percent disapproval rating would be a very tall order."
Meanwhile, public pessimism is growing: Fifty-seven percent of U.S. adults said they thought the worst was yet to come for the U.S economy, up sharply from 39 percent in January. And 71 percent said the nation was still in a recession, even though the slump, which began in December 2007, officially ended in June 2009.