After a positive job report for February, optimism drove
markets upward but the report only looked good because economists had been
forecasting weaker numbers due to the harsh weather. The recovery appears to be
on track, albeit on a slow and steady path.
The job market was adding an average
of 205,000 jobs a month in the year leading up to this winter. Economists are
hopeful we'll get back to that pace soon and look for broader economic growth
Speaking at a Wall Street Journal event Thursday, New York Fed President Bill Dudley said he
believes the harsh winter will shave as much as a whole percentage point off
the economy's growth rate in the first quarter. But after that, the economy
should bounce back because the drag from federal spending cuts is declining,
household finances are improving and companies are awash in cash, he said.
Dudley predicts that the economy
will grow around 3% overall this year. The last time the economy grew that fast
in a calendar year was 2005. While growth at that rate is considered solid,
it's not gangbusters. And it's too slow for many Americans.
About 3.8 million workers have been
unemployed for six months or more -- and that number doesn't count workers who
have given up on their job searches.
Construction was the hardest hit
sector in the recession. It has yet to stage a major comeback, despite the
housing recovery. About 2.3 million construction jobs were wiped out between
2006 and 2011. Since then, only about 1 in 5 of those jobs have returned.
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