I think one of the main reasons Obama decided to release his birth certificate yesterday was to draw attention away from these dismal economic numbers. He’ll lose in 2012 because of the economy and he knows it, not on the BC issue. Just my 2 cents.

(CNBC) — U.S. economic growth slowed more than expected in the first quarter as higher food and gasoline prices dampened consumer spending, and sent a broad measure of inflation rising at its fastest pace in 2-½ years.

But the pull back in output, which was also the result of harsh winter weather, a widening trade gap as well as weak government spending, will probably be fleeting given a firming labor market.

Growth in U.S. gross domestic product — a measure of all goods and services produced within U.S. borders — braked to a 1.8 percent annual rate after a 3.1 percent fourth quarter pace, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Economists had expected a 2 percent growth pace.

“We hit a bit of a soft patch in the first quarter, but that should prove temporary because weather was a drag and we got blindsided a bit by a jump in gasoline prices late in the quarter,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics before the report was released.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday acknowledged the slowdown in first-quarter growth, describing the recovery as proceeding at a “moderate pace” — a slight step back from a statement in March when it said the economy was on a “firmer footing.”

It trimmed its growth estimate for 2011 to between 3.1 and 3.3 percent from a 3.4 to 3.9 percent January projection.

Then there’s jobless claims:

WASHINGTON (AP) — More people sought unemployment benefits last week, the second rise in three weeks, a sign the job market’s recovery is slow and uneven.

Applications for unemployment benefits jumped 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000 for the week ending April 23, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the highest total since late January.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose to 408,500, its third straight rise and the first time it has topped 400,000 in two months.

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