NEW YORK Economists raised their forecasts for U.S. economic growth in the second quarter and through the balance of 2014, with a generally brighter outlook for both job growth and lower unemployment.
Analysts see the economy growing at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the current quarter, up from a previous estimate of 3.0 percent, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's quarterly survey of 42 forecasters, released on Friday.
Third-quarter growth was forecast to accelerate to 2.9 percent, up from a prior forecast of 2.8 percent, and fourth-quarter growth estimates have been raised to 3.2 percent from 2.7 percent.
Meanwhile, they see the economy growing at a rate of 2.4 percent for all of 2014, down from the previous estimate of 2.8 percent in the previous survey in February. The downward revision for the annual average pace of growth is a result of the surprisingly weak first-quarter growth rate of just 0.1 percent.
Growth in 2015 is expected to come in at 3.1 percent, unchanged from the February survey.
The pace of hiring was expected to accelerate in the current quarter compared with previous expectations, with an average rate of monthly non-farm job growth seen around 232,000 versus a previous forecast of 193,500. That is expected to moderate in the third quarter, averaging 204,700, although that is up from a prior forecast of 195,200.
Hiring should average 196,500 a month for all of 2014, compared with the prior full-year forecast of 187,700.
The jobless rate was expected to be 6.4 percent at the end of the current quarter and 6.3 percent by the end of the third quarter.
The most recent official unemployment rate released by the government showed the jobless rate in April dropped to 6.3 percent, the lowest since September 2008.
Inflation was expected to remain muted, with year-on-year core consumer price inflation, which strips out food and energy costs, averaging 1.8 percent in both the second and third quarters, compared with previous estimates of 1.8 percent for the second quarter and 1.9 percent for the third.
Looking at the inflation measure most closely tracked by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the core personal consumption expenditures, or PCE, index, forecasters also see muted price pressures. The second-quarter rate was seen at 1.5 percent, unchanged from the prior estimate. The third-quarter rate was also forecast to pick up to 1.7 percent, up from 1.6 percent in the February survey.
(Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)