Economy
April 27, 2015
Are things finally looking up?

The U.S. economy continues to improve in the wake of the 2007-09 recession, but challenges remain. The unemployment rate has dropped to 5.5 percent from its 10 percent peak during the recession, but household income remains flat. At the same time, economists worry that many newly created jobs don’t pay well enough to sufficiently boost economic expansion and consumer spending. Inflation remains low, but the Federal Reserve has signaled that it could begin raising interest rates in the near future, a move the Fed must handle adroitly to avoid a new recession. Concerns over wage growth, minority unemployment and weakness of some overseas economies continue to trouble economists and policymakers even as the U.S. outlook improves.

Recruiters, left, talk with job seekers at a career fair April 3, 2015, at San Francisco State University in California. Although the unemployment rate, at 5.5 percent, is the lowest since 2008, the number of people looking for work remains high. (Getty Images/Bloomberg/David Paul Morris)   Recruiters, left, talk with job seekers at a career fair April 3, 2015, at San Francisco State University in California. Although the unemployment rate, at 5.5 percent, is the lowest since 2008, the number of people looking for work remains high. (Getty Images/Bloomberg/David Paul Morris)

The U.S. economy is in better shape than it’s been in for years, but that doesn’t mean all the dark clouds are gone.

The economy added 295,000 jobs in February, the 60th straight month of job growth and the 12th in a row in which the private sector added at least 200,000 jobs.1 But employers added only 126,000 jobs in March, the fewest since December 2013.2 The slowdown was attributed in part to plummeting oil prices and a harsh winter but nonetheless raised questions about the durability of the economic recovery.3

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