Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Better World; Many Upbeat Signs for U.S. Economy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Better World; Many Upbeat Signs for U.S. Economy

Article excerpt

There are many positive signs for the economy this year.

Pulling the economy out of the deepest dive since the Great Depression could not happen overnight. The recovery is now about to move from the vicious cycle of the recession to a "virtuous circle" of a recovery.

A few hopeful signs as reported by The Wall Street Journal:

Unemployment: The virtuous cycle starts with a good job. The federal jobless rate is expected to drop from the current 7 percent to 6.5 percent. Economists expect almost 200,000 jobs per month to be added this year, the highest number since 2005. "Companies have been hiring at a steady pace across a wide range of industries," The Wall Street Journal reported.

There still is a big hole left from the 6 million jobs lost during the recession. There were six people competing for each job on average during the recession; that is down to three per job.

Manufacturing expansion: Signs were up in December, as reported by the Institute of Supply Management. New orders and hiring showed strength. Industrial production is higher than its peak before the recession.

"The sector's strength has been building for months," The Wall Street Journal reported.

Foreclosure rescues: The federal government's program to rescue homeowners is just starting to hit stride after years of disappointing results. Nearly 3 million homeowners have been able to refinance through the government's Home Affordable Refinance Program. This program helped homeowners who needed a helping hand rather than those who were beyond help.

Record exports: They reached their highest level ever in November, fueled by the energy sector and overseas demand, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Better consumer spending: The government said third-quarter spending and business investment went better than expected.

Housing rebound: New single-family home construction was started on 20 percent more homes in the first 11 months of last year. Households have reduced debt, and mortgage rates remain historically low. Home prices are up in many markets.

Good auto sales: The U.S. auto industry had its best sales year since 2007. Consumers bought 15.6 million vehicles in 2013 vs. 10.4 million vehicles in 2009. Thanks to lower or stabilized gas prices, consumers are buying pricier vehicles. The outlook for this year is marginal sales improvement. After all, at some point Americans have to replace their aging vehicles.

Lower energy costs: Underlying all the good news is the natural gas boom. Lower energy costs will ripple through the entire economy, leaving more disposable income available for business expansion and consumer spending.

JEA, for instance, is predicting stable rates. U.S. crude oil output has increased by 64 percent from five years ago, The Wall Street Journal reported. The U.S. is now exporting increased amounts of crude. …

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