Growth Likely Dipped In Winter, But 2012 Brightens

WASHINGTON (AP) - Economists are predicting the economy slowed down some in the first three months of the year, growing at a 2.5 percent rate compared to the final quarter of 2011.

But economists surveyed by FactSet also say the picture gets brighter after that. They predict faster growth this year than what happened in 2011.

The government will make its first estimate today of gross domestic product for the January-March quarter. GDP is the output of all goods and services, from cars to electricity to manicures.

Trade also may have slowed growth last quarter. U.S. manufacturers are finding it harder to sell products overseas because of Europe's debt crisis and weaker growth in Asia.

Many economists think hiring will continue to improve. Job growth has helped drive the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent in March from 9.1 percent in August.