WASHINGTON (AP) — Business economists expect 2013 will be another year of sub-par growth for the U.S. economy, reflecting uncertainty stemming from the budget battles in Washington and Europe's on-going debt problems. But they think the economy will improve as the year progresses and by 2014 will grow at the fastest pace in nine years.
In its latest survey of top forecasters, the National Association for Business Economics said it expected the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, to expand at an annual rate of 2 percent this year, slightly worse than last year's lackluster 2.2 percent growth.
For 2014, however, the NABE forecasters believe the economy will be growing at a rate of 2.8 percent, which would be the best performance since 2005. The GDP, the economy's total output of goods and services, shrank in 2008 and 2009 as the country went through the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Since then economic growth has been modest as the economy has been held back by a variety of factors including prolonged unemployment.
The latest quarterly forecast from NABE is based on responses from 49 forecasters gathered from Jan. 28 through Feb. 5. On growth, it represented a slight downgrade from the survey released in December which forecast the economy would grow 2.1 percent this year.
The NABE panelists were pessimistic about the effects the budget battles in Washington would have on growth. Nearly all felt growth would be reduced this year, given the uncertainty surrounding the budget. One-half of the panelists felt the drag would shave less than one-half percentage point from growth while one-third put the drag at between one-half and a full percentage point knocked off growth this year.
The panelists saw the economy strengthening as the budget uncertainty is resolved. They forecast growth in the second half of this year would average above a rate of 2.5 percent and get stronger next year.
"While the NABE forecasters see fiscal threats, they are optimistic that there will be some resolution toward the second half of this year and that will result in an improvement in many of the numbers is 2014," said Nayantara Hensel, an economics professor at the National Defense University in Washington and a member of the NABE forecasting panel.
The next budget deadline will occur Friday when across-the-board spending cuts totaling $85 billion, known as a sequester, are scheduled to go into effect.