While the economy is improving, the pace of growth remains sluggish as consumers pull back and the federal government cuts spending, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The nation's gross domestic product grew at an annualized 1.7% pace from April to June after increasing 1.1% during the first three months of the year, the article explained. 

"The focus is now on the second half of the year. Most expect the pace of activity to pick up over the final six months of 2013, though the magnitude of the acceleration is highly debated," Royal Bank of Scotland economists said.