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Job seekers wait in line for a job fair in Chicago, Ill. - 

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Kai Ryssdal: A word now about tomorrow's big news. The recession's going to be over. Semi-officially, anyway. Unless something goes horribly wrong between now and tomorrow morning, the Commerce Department's going to announce the economy grew in the third quarter. Maybe as much as 2.5 or 3 percent. That will be small solace to the nearly 10 percent of the work force that's out of work. And the millions who're still upside-down on their mortgages. So our Rico Gagliano had just one question.


RICO GAGLIANO: Who cares about GDP? If our actual lives aren't getting better, why should we care that a number got larger?

Diane Swonk is chief economist with Mesirow Financial. She says the big number means we've avoided a big calamity.

DIANE SWONK: The best news is that we're no longer particularly in a free fall. It's now become the Great Recession and not a repeat of the Great Depression, although it's still depressing. And I guess less bad is now good.

But avoiding disaster is not the same as happily-ever after.

Bill Cheney is chief economist at John Hancock Financial. He's optimistic about the economy, but says this latest growth was spurred by short-term programs that won't last.

BILL CHENEY: The Cash-For-Clunkers program was a one-time deal that ran out. The homebuyers tax credit, even if it's extended, it still has a short shelf life as it were.

The secret to a sustainable recovery? Economist Diane Swonk says: More jobs. Without 'em, another credit or energy crunch could trigger another dip into recession.

SWONK: The uncertainty and the risk of having that double-dip is still real. That's why no one's popping champagne corks, but they're still drinking lots of cheap wine.

In Los Angeles, I'm Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.