The U.S. economy swelled to an 6.4 percent annual growth rate in the first quarter as government pandemic aid fueled spending and COVID cases started to subside, allowing more businesses to operate at closer-to-normal levels. Thursday’s data reported by the Commerce Department showed the nation’s gross domestic product—its overall output of goods and services—is on track to return to pre-pandemic levels in the next quarter. “We’re running on all cylinders in terms of economic activity,” Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West, told The New York Times. “People are anxious to get out and return to their normal lives, and there’s pent-up demand.” There is also some good news in the jobs market—the Labor Department said Thursday that weekly initial jobless claims have fallen to the lowest level recorded since the pandemic upended the livelihoods of millions. However, as of March, there were 8.4 million fewer jobs on payrolls compared with February 2020, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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