By Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy is still growing, just not by much. And until that changes, don't look for the jobs to come back.
Americans spent less and businesses thought twice about restocking their shelves in the past three months, making for a sluggish spring. And the government now says the recession was a deeper hole to climb out of than previously known.
The gross domestic product, the broadest measure of U.S. economic output, grew at an annual rate of 2.4 percent from April to June, down from 3.7 percent the quarter before and the weakest showing in nearly a year. Many economists say the economy is growing even more slowly now.
"The economy has lost some steam," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University, Channel Islands. "Some of the pistons in the engine are sputtering, and economic momentum is slowing."
Even the good news for the economy this spring came with an asterisk. Home builders, for example, increased their spending at the fastest pace in 27 years. But economists say that was likely a one-time event propelled by a now-expired tax credit for homebuyers.
Companies also invested in equipment and software this spring at the fastest pace in 13 years. And they are expected to keep up that spending. But even that won't be enough to invigorate the rebound. And some spending on equipment that increases productivity actually makes it easier for companies to do without more workers.
Uncertain about the strength of the recovery, companies are sitting on record piles of cash, loath to use the money to hire new workers and expand operations.
Caterpillar Inc., Dupont Co. and Microsoft Corp. are among companies reporting strong second-quarter earnings in the past two weeks yet they aren't ready to bulk up their work forces.
With the fall elections looming, Republicans in Congress and some Democrats have shown little inclination to pass additional stimulus measures that would add to the deficit in order to speed up the recovery.