U.S. economic growth in first quarter declined at annualized rate of 1.4%, feds report

GDP measures country's economic activity
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The country's economic activity for the first quarter of this year, known as its Gross Domestic Product, declined at an annualized rate at 1.4%, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The report, issued by the agency's Bureau of Economic Analysis, attributed the decline in large part to the spike in COVID-19 cases as a result of the emergence late last year of the virus' Omicron variant.

"In the first quarter, an increase in COVID-19 cases related to the Omicron variant resulted in continued restrictions and disruptions in the operations of establishments in some parts of the country," the bureau said.

The bureau also attributed the decline to the decrease in government assistance payments in the form of forgivable loans to businesses, grants to state and local governments, and social benefits to households "as provisions of several federal programs expired or tapered off."

Wall Street forecasts ahead of the release of the report ranged from slow growth to a slight decline. 

Analysts also attribute the decline in the January-through-March period to lingering supply chain constraints, inflation and disruptions from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which started in late February.