An exit sign for economic recovery
An exit sign for economic recovery - 
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Kai Ryssdal: I think it's fair to say the national economic mood has brightened somewhat in the past few months. The labor market is on the mend. There's real growth in gross domestic product. Yes, I know the Dow Jones Industrial Average is not the economy. But still, 11,000 is a promising number. And then, we go and get days like today.

Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports now from Washington.

JOHN DIMSDALE: The number of workers applying for unemployment benefits surged to nearly half-a-million last week. That's the biggest increase in two months. Home foreclosures jumped a record 19 percent in March. And industrial production for the same month was up slightly, but disappointed economists.

JACK ALBERTINE: The reality is that this is a wimpy recovery.

Forecaster Jack Albertine says today's numbers reinforce his view that unemployment will stay above 5 percent for three or four years.

ALBERTINE: I don't think we're poised for a strong rebound. I think we're in a rut basically, a very slow recovery.

But forecaster Macroeconomic Advisers is sticking with its prediction of a healthy 3.6-percent growth rate for the overall economy this year. Even with today's numbers, says Ben Herzon.

BEN HERZON: Those particular data I would discount as statistical noise in an otherwise improving trend.

He says the stock market's rise, along with more stable home prices, is giving consumers the confidence to spend more. Retailers report healthy gains, although several lenders today said credit card defaults were on the increase.

Wharton School professor Jeremy Siegel says there's still a dangerous undertow, but the economy will be able to swim out of it.

JEREMY SIEGEL: Not everything is going straight up, and we know the labor market has been extremely soft. And it'll take a while before that becomes a self-sustaining recovery.

And Siegel says a global recovery is underway that will help pull America up.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.