Make us your home page
Instagram

Strong week for economy raises optimism for 2011

WASHINGTON — Buoyed by a string of hopeful government reports on layoffs, factory production and consumer spending, economists are predicting that hiring and even housing will pick up in 2011 and make it a better year, after all.

The reports issued this week, along with a tax-cut plan that Congress is set to pass, point to stronger overall growth next year, experts say.

Growth "has improved as the year is coming to an end," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "I'm feeling more optimistic that the economic recovery will evolve into a self-sustaining expansion in 2011."

Zandi expects the economy to grow at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the October-December quarter, up from previous estimates of about 2.5 percent. And for 2011, he and other economists now expect growth at roughly a 4 percent pace, up from earlier forecasts of about 2.7 percent.

With 4 percent growth, the economy would at least be moving closer to the pace of expansion needed to bring down unemployment. Growth of 5 percent is needed for a full year to lower the jobless rate by 1 percentage point.

The nation's unemployment rate is 9.8 percent, and economists expect it will surpass 10 percent again, though maybe only briefly.

The main reason, they say, is that the improving economy will cause more out-of-work people to resume looking for jobs. People out of work aren't counted as unemployed unless they're actively seeking a job. During recessions, some unemployed people become discouraged and give up.

There is reason for more optimism.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that 3,000 fewer people applied for first-time unemployment benefits last week. That brought the seasonally adjusted weekly total to 420,000. The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure, fell for the sixth straight week to 422,750. It's the lowest level since August 2008, just before the financial crisis intensified with the collapse of Lehman Bros.

When weekly first-time applications for benefits fall below 425,000, the decline tends to signal modest job growth. But economists say applications would need to dip consistently to 375,000 or below to indicate a significant decline in unemployment. Initial applications for benefits peaked during the recession at 651,000 in March 2009.

First-time applications have been declining in the past two months, raising hopes that layoffs are falling and employers are hiring more. So far, though, job gains have been too few to reduce unemployment.

Strong week for economy raises optimism for 2011 12/16/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Wanted: New businesses on Safety Harbor's Main Street

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — A green grocery store, a hardware store, restaurants, boutiques and multi-use buildings are all wanted downtown, according to discussion at a community redevelopment workshop held last week. And to bring them to the Main Street district, city commissioners, led by Mayor Joe Ayoub, gave City Manager …

    Whistle Stop Bar & Grill is one of the main stops on Main Street in Safety Harbor. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  2. Q&A: A business leader and historian jointly delve into Tampa's waterfront

    Business

    TAMPA — As a native of Tampa, Arthur Savage has always had a passion for his hometown's history. And as a third-generation owner and operator of A.R. Savage & Son, a Tampa-based shipping agency, his affinity for his hometown also extends to its local waterways.

    Arthur Savage (left) and Rodney Kite-Powell, co-authors of "Tampa Bay's Waterfront: Its History and Development," stand for a portrait with the bust of James McKay Sr. in downtown Tampa on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. McKay, who passed away in 1876, was a prominent businessman, among other things, in the Tampa area. He was Arthur Savage's great great grandfather. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Tampa's connected-vehicle program looking for volunteers

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Drivers on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway can save on their monthly toll bill by volunteering to test new technology that will warn them about potential crashes and traffic jams.

    A rendering shows how new technology available through the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority will warn driver's about crashes, traffic jams, speed decreases and more. THEA is seeking 1,600 volunteers to install the devices, which will display alerts in their review mirrors, as part of an 18-month connected-vehicle pilot.
  4. What Florida's top Republicans are saying about Donald Trump

    State Roundup

    Republicans nationwide are blasting President Donald Trump for how he responded to Charlottesville.

    U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement on the violence this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia at the White House on August 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in Charlottesville when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr. barreled into a crowd of counter-protesters following violence at the 'Unite the Right' rally. Two Virginia state police troopers were also killed when their helicopter crashed while covering events on the ground. [Getty Images]
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena to host job fair today

    Business

    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Lightning and its home, Amalie Arena, are hosting a part-time job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. today on the Promenade Level of the arena. Available positions include platinum services, parking attendants, event security, housekeeping, retail and many other departments.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning and AMALIE Arena is hosting a part-time job fair on Thursday, Aug. 17 on the Promenade level of the arena.