With the housing market and auto sales showing some signs of life, pundits predict a better economy for 2012. But the ripple from a European downturn could erode the economic pace in the US.
Postings for tech jobs were up 30 percent last month compared with a year ago, according to Craigslist. Job hiring already resulted in upbeat employment numbers last week.
Higher food and energy prices helped propel the Producer Price Index up by 1.1 percent in December. But the outlook on the inflation rate is not entirely bleak, some say.
Pundits predict healthy growth in 2011 and fewer unemployed. But housing and state budgets may struggle.
Weak sales are keeping many businesses from hiring new workers. Consumers are not spending at their normal levels, and although housing has improved, it's not leading the economic recovery.
Economists see some optimism in the unemployment rate as well as in other employment data. But overall, jobs are still being lost.
Consumer spending rose 0.7 percent in October, and businesses started adding inventory after 10 months of lowering their stockpiles, according to reports Wednesday. Some see recovery at a moderate pace.
A number of positive trends support the Federal Reserve chief's statement that the recession has "very likely" ended.
The sharp rise in claims in recent weeks suggests that the pace of unemployment is not slowing down.
The practice is spreading as the US unemployment rate hits 7.6 percent.