The economy grew at a solid 3.2% pace during the first quarter of this year as consumers boosted their spending by the most in three years. It marked the third straight quarterly gain, providing more hope that a recovery is in progress. Still, growth came in a tad shy of the 3.4% forecast and was weaker than the fourth quarter of last year (5.6%).
Consumers powered the first quarter's growth: They increased their spending at a 3.6% pace, the strongest showing since early 2007—before the economy tipped into a recession. Looking ahead, however, analysts believe consumers will be wary of stepping up spending much further, given that the unemployment rate is hovering around 10%. (Read more GDP stories.)