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Economy Grew At 1.8 Percent Pace In First Quarter

The nation's economy grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter of the year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis just reported.

That's down from fourth-quarter 2010's 3.1 percent pace.

The first-quarter figure is the bureau's first estimate of how the economy was doing in the first three months of the year. It will revise the number each of the next two months.

The most recent recession technically ended in mid-2009. Since then, growth has peaked at a 5 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2009. The 1.8 percent pace is near the bottom of the post-recession quarterly growth rates — the slowest growth since then was in third-quarter 2009, when the economy grew at a 1.6 percent rate.

Meanwhile, the Employment and Training Administration just announced that the number of first-time claims for jobless benefits rose by 25,000 last week, to 429,000.

Our colleagues at Planet Money follow the economy's ups and downs.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.