The economy slowed sharply in the first three months of the year as high gas prices cut into consumer spending, bad weather delayed construction projects and the federal government slashed defense spending by the most in six years.
The government says the economy grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter. That was weaker than the 3.1 percent growth rate for the October-December quarter and the worst showing since last spring when the European debt crisis slowed growth to a 1.7 percent pace.
However, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other economists say the slowdown last quarter is a temporary setback. They generally agree that gas prices will stabilize and the economy will grow at a 3 percent pace in each of the next three quarters.