Economists Becoming More Optimistic On Jobs

American businesses will stop shedding jobs by the end of March, says a new report from the National Association of Business Economists.

The organization’s latest outlook is even more hopeful than the one issued just a month ago. Today’s report says that the U.S. economy will grow at an annual 3.2 percent GDP, half a point higher than the NABE’s October forecast.

The economists say the recovery will be lead by the  housing turnaround already underway, which will gain momentum next year, and by business investment in equipment, software, and inventories.

“While the recovery has been jobless so far, that should soon change,” said NABE President Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University. “Within the next few months, companies should be adding instead of cutting jobs.”

Consumers, however, are unlikely to open their wallets anytime soon. The 48 economists participating in the survey expect “lackluster consumer spending gains over the coming year.” Instead, consumers will continue saving, averaging 4 percent during 2010.

The unemployment rate, now at 10.2 percent, is expected to hover there through the first half of next year, declining only slightly — to 9.6 percent — by year’s end. The report said that next to the size of the federal deficit, unemployment over the next five years was the biggest concern of the economists on the survey panel.

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