White House Lifts 2005 Economic Forecast

The Bush administration on Thursday issued a slightly more optimistic forecast for the country's economic growth this year.

The White House is predicting that gross domestic product will grow by 3.5 as measured from the fourth quarter of last year to the fourth quarter of this year, said press secretary Scott McClellan. That's up a tad from the administration's previous estimate, made in the summer. It was set at a 3.4 percent increase at that time.

The gross domestic product measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is the best barometer of the country's economic health.

If the administration's new GDP estimate proves correct, it would mark healthy -- but slower -- growth than logged for all of 2004.

The showing being forecast for 2005 would be especially notable given the jolts the economy suffered this year from a trio of Gulf Coast hurricanes and record-high energy prices.

The economy thus far has demonstrated that it has been able to weather these jolts. It logged a stellar 4.3 percent growth rate in the July-to-September quarter, the government reported on Wednesday.

"The economy, our workers and businesses have overcome many challenges, including the hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast region and high energy prices," McClellan said.

For 2006, the White House predicts the economy will grow by a solid 3.4 percent, the same as previously forecast.

The administration's GDP figures are in line with those of private economists.

In its inflation outlook, the administration is projecting consumer prices to rise by 3.8 percent this year, as measured by the fourth quarter of the previous year. That's up from the administration's previous forecast of a 2.9 percent increase.

Last year, consumer prices went up by 3.4 percent.

For 2006, the administration predicts consumer prices will moderate, growing by 2.4 percent.