Full recovery in sights for '14
WASHINGTON — After six years of a gloomy recession and shaky recovery, the U.S. economy looks poised to regain its glow next year with stronger job growth, bigger income gains for more people and a resurgence of homeowners moving up into new digs.
The overall economic outlook for the United States has improved sharply in recent weeks amid a string of surprisingly robust economic data: Businesses have stepped up hiring, new factory orders from abroad are at a two-year high, and consumers have been flocking to car lots and restaurants.
State and local governments that not long ago were in retrenchment are spending more, too.
“We could see the unemployment rate down to 6 percent this time next year,” said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist for Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
That would be a full percentage point below the current rate and, in some analysts' views, close to full employment.
Some experts say economic growth could be even stronger next year now that the House has approved a bipartisan two-year budget deal.
Not only would the agreement undo most of the sequestration spending cuts in the short term, it would lower a major confidence hurdle for businesses, some of which complained that they have been hamstrung by the federal government's repeated budget standoffs and partisan warring.
“If that is dealt with, that goes a long way toward reducing uncertainty,” said David Hannah, chief executive of Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. in Los Angeles.
Even before the budget deal, Hannah was preparing for a marked step-up in business next year and more aggressive hiring to add to his company's worldwide workforce of about 14,000.
Hannah said Reliance's orders accelerated in the second half of this year, which usually happens in the first half. He said the company got a good boost from the buoyant auto industry as well as its other mainline customers: aircraft makers, oil and gas firms and electronics companies.
Reliance's biggest source of revenue, nonresidential construction, has been lagging since the recession, but Hannah expects more demand next year as increased home-building establishes the need for more supermarkets, doctors' offices and other commercial and industrial development.
“We are looking for 2014 to be a better year overall in both sales and profits than 2013,” he said.
All in all, many economists view economic growth climbing to a solid 3 percent next year, a significant improvement from the 2 percent average annual pace that the economy has been stuck on for the past 4 1⁄2 years.
An acceleration to 3 percent would probably push up job growth to 250,000 a month on average, from a monthly average of 190,000 in the past 12 months, Kleinhenz said.
At that pace, the nation would recover all jobs lost in the recession by the end of 2014. It would push down the jobless rate closer to the 5.5 percent to 6 percent range that some now expect as the potential long-term unemployment rate.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S. Steel warns it may lay off almost 2,000 workers in Alabama, Texas
- Drops in gasoline prices won’t likely last, analysts say
- Energy companies vie for experienced workers with skills in high demand
- Energy-saving tactics pay off in Green Workplace Challenge
- Energy Spotlight: Adam Pope
- Workarounds exist for battery woes
- Password change can block hackers from wireless cameras
- Former athletes open businesses
- Chevron laying off 162 workers from Moon-based unit
- $300K in wine bottles stolen from Napa Valley restaurant found in North Carolina cellar
- Energy industry says it’s on top of methane leaks, but environmentalists want oversight