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MailTribune.com
  • Housing, autos, stocks boost economy

    But unemployment, static pay are keeping it from recovering faster, experts say
  • WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy is a study in contrasts.
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  • WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy is a study in contrasts.
    The housing, banking and auto industries are surging back to health and that has helped push the stock market to a five-year peak. Higher prices for homes and stocks tend to make people feel wealthier and spend more.
    Yet unemployment remains high and hiring modest. The end of a Social Security tax cut is shrinking already flat pay. Federal budget fights have put businesses and consumers on edge.
    Balanced between those tailwinds and headwinds, the economy is struggling to accelerate. By the end of this year, though, many analysts think the tailwinds will succeed in boosting growth and fueling a more robust economy in 2014.
    "There is some underlying momentum," says Paul Edelstein, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. "It's not as strong as we would like, but it's there and it's building."
    Uncertainty about government spending cuts could be defused by summer, and any spending cuts that do take effect will likely be phased in over several years. Also, for the first time since the recession ended 31/2; years ago, several key areas of the economy are simultaneously driving growth. Here's how:
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