WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy likely grew solidly in the final quarter of 2013, momentum that's expected to carry into this year. Most economists think 2014 will produce the strongest growth since the recession officially ended in June 2009.
On Thursday, the government will make its first of three estimates of economic growth for the October-December quarter. Economists are forecasting an annual growth rate of 3.3 percent, after an even stronger 4.1 percent rate for July through September.
For all of 2013, analysts think the economy grew about 1.9 percent. That would be below the 2.8 percent growth for 2012 as measured by the gross domestic product. GDP represents the country's total output of goods and services.
For all of 2014, analysts are more optimistic. Many foresee GDP growth of 3 percent or better.
A key reason for their optimism is an improved outlook for the government sector. Overall growth was reduced by an estimated 1.5 percentage points in 2013 because of a drag from higher federal taxes and deep government spending cuts. Those effects are expected to subside in 2014.
This year, economists also think the economy will get a lift from continued gains in hiring. Further steady job growth would give more households money to spend and help lift consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity.