IMF cuts US growth forecast for 2014 to 2.0%, blaming contraction in Q1

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund on Monday slashed its forecast for the United States and urged policymakers to keep interest rates low and raise the minimum wage to strengthen growth.

The global crisis lender said in its annual report card on the US economy that the country will likely grow only 2.0 per cent this year, compared with the previous 2.8 per cent estimate, blaming mainly the unexpected contraction in the first quarter.

It said growth is likely to rebound to 3.0 per cent next year, but that to ensure the strength of the economy, the government should take measures like increasing the minimum wage and embarking on a strong infrastructure-building program.

It also said that the Federal Reserve should not expect the economy to get back to full employment before 2017, and that it could afford to hold its key interest rate at the zero level past the middle of next year, when the Fed has signaled it expects to raise the rate.

Labor markets are weaker than is implied by the headline unemployment number," the Fund said, citing the low workforce participation rate and stagnant wages.

"With better growth prospects, the US should see steady progress in job creation."

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