WASHINGTON -- Real gross domestic product - the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the U.S. - increased at an annual rate of 1.9% in the first quarter of 2012, according to the final estimate released by the Commerce Department Thursday.

That figure was unchanged from the increase reported in the preliminary estimate the previous month. The 1.9% final estimate of GDP growth is less than the 3.0% growth in the final quarter of 2011.

The final estimate of first quarter real GDP was right in line with the 1.9% median increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures the prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 2.6% in the first quarter. That increase reflected a 2.3% rise in the core prices, which exclude food and energy,  which matched the economists' projection.

The increase in real GDP  reflected a gain of 2.5% in personal consumption expenditures, the largest quarterly uptick since it climbed that same amount in the fourth quarter of 2010. Also contributing to the first quarter rise was an increase of 4.2% in real exports.

Those gains were partially offset by decreases of 5.9% in federal government spending and 2.7% in state and local government spending. National defense spending decreased 8.3%, and nondefense spending fell 0.8%.

Imports,  which are subtracted from the calculation of GDP, increased 2.7% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said.

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