The New York region's economy in 2011 grew at half the national average for metropolitan areas, and last year's rate probably wasn't much better, experts said Tuesday.

The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported its gross domestic product for the New York region rose 0.8 percent in 2011 to $1.28 trillion compared with a year earlier. The GDP figure represents the value of all goods and services produced in the 23-county area that includes Nassau and Suffolk counties, New York City and portions of northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Nationally, GDP among 366 cities was up an average of 1.6 percent in 2011. The bureau is expected to release more current data in September.

The bureau doesn't break out GDP for Long Island. However, economic forecaster IHS Global Insight estimated Nassau-Suffolk accounts for about $122 billion of the regional GDP number, according to the most recent available data.

The New York region's sluggish growth in 2011 followed a 3.7-percent surge in 2010 and a 3.4-percent decline in 2009. The 18-month recession ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, which tracks periods of boom and bust.

Edward Gullason, an economics professor at Dowling College in Oakdale, said, "the recovery has been especially feeble. The pace of growth is very, very slow -- and that's being borne out by this data."

Much of the 2011 growth came from three sectors: professional and business services, information technology, and leisure and hospitality services. Financial services -- which include banking, real estate and Wall Street -- contracted the most year over year, down 0.5 percent.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Gullason, who worked for the White House Council of Economic Advisers under former President Ronald Reagan, predicted regional GDP for last year would be "modestly higher" than that of 2011.

"A pickup is clearly occurring if you look at what's going on in the housing market and stock market," he said. "So, I think there will be a gain in [2012] GDP but it will be extremely modest."

Irwin Kellner, chief economist at the MarketWatch business information service and former Hofstra University professor, forecast little change in GDP from 2011 to 2012. "It will be about the same .?.?. the political battles in Washington over the budget, deficit and regulations is making businesses and consumers reluctant to spend," he said.