Are we or aren't we on the way to economic recovery? Economists differ on the answer. - 

Bob Moon: The government provided us with a little more holiday cheer today: News that unemployment claims have dropped to their lowest level since April 2008, before most of us realized a recession was setting in.

Add in slowly improving consumer sentiment and economic growth, and economist Joel Naroff is looking forward to the new year.

Joel Naroff: There's a whole set of reasons to believe that the recovery, which has been picking up some speed, will continue to improve as we go through 2012.

On the other hand, at IHS Global Insight, economist Nigel Gault tells us not to get our hopes up too much.

Nigel Gault: I don't think it's signaling a strong recovery; I think we're somewhere in between here.

Gault says it's good news, yes, but there are plenty of headwinds the economy is still struggling against.