The US economy grew slightly faster in the last three months of 2016 than originally reported, but still experienced a significant slowdown, the Commerce Department reported today.

An improvement in consumption and business inventory investment saw the final estimate for fourth quarter GDP growth rise to 2.1%, an upward revision of 0.2% from the last report.

Analysts had been expecting a revision of only a tenth of a percentage point.

Falling exports and declining spending by the federal government nevertheless put fourth quarter growth well below the July-September period, which saw brisk expansion of 3.5%.

For all of 2016, the economy grew 1.6%, the slowest pace since 2011.

That figure was unchanged from the previous report.

The GDP figures are revised multiple times as more comprehensive data becomes available.

The upward revision for the final quarter was driven in part by a stronger personal consumption spending, which grew 3.5% compared to the third quarter, 0.5 points higher than the prior estimate.

However, the drag on growth from falling net exports in the quarter was the heaviest recorded since 2004, subtracting 1.8% from GDP in the quarter.

While the US has seen a steady recovery since the Great Recession of 2008, it has also been among the slowest compared to previous post-crisis periods, as an aging labour force and higher savings rates have dampened growth.

President Donald Trump has pledged to return the US to annual growth rates of 3% or higher, a feat many economists say is unrealistic without productivity gains and increases in the size of the labour force.