The U.S. job and housing markets are healing, U.S. inflation is modest, and the overall economy is poised to grow more strongly in the next few months, next year, and in 2016.
That's the gist of a series of economic reports published Thursday.
The number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation dropped slightly to hit a nationwide total of 291,000. It's the tenth week in a row that the number has been below 300,000 and economists say that is evidence of fewer layoffs and an improving job market.
A business group (the National Association of Realtors) says U.S. home sales rose 1.5 percent in October to the fastest pace in a year. If sales continued at that pace for a full year, nearly 5.3 million homes would change hands. Economists watch housing closely because severe problems in this area were a key cause of the recession.
A separate government report says overall inflation did not increase in October, and was up a modest 1.7 percent over the past year. Outside the volatile areas of food and energy, inflation in the overall economy was slightly higher.
An index designed to predict the health of the U.S. economy in the next few months rose in October. The Conference Board in New York says its index of leading indicators gained nine-tenths of a percent in the month. Economists look at stocks, manufacturing, the job market and other factors to make their assessment.
Another analysis of the economy comes from the University of Michigan, where experts say U.S. economic growth is speeding up and will hit 3.1 percent next year and 3.3 percent in 2016. The study's authors predict the economy will create more than five million jobs in the next two years. They say that will push the unemployment rate down to five percent by the end of 2016. That is about eight-tenths of a percentage point lower than the current level.