A group of U.S. business economists says it sees the American economy advancing steadily through next year, with the nation's production expanding and the jobless rate falling.
The National Association for Business Economics says an unusually cold and snowy winter curtailed economic growth in the past three months, but it expects economic expansion to accelerate through 2015.
The group's panel of 48 economists said the January-to-March advance is likely to reach a weak 1.9 percent. But it said growth could end the year at a pace of more than three percent.
The panel predicted 2.8 percent growth for all of 2014 for the world's largest economy, up from 1.9 percent in 2013. It projects a 3.1 percent advance in 2015.
The group's president, Jack Kleinhenz, said the country's labor market, consumer spending and housing industry are all expected to improve over the next two years.
The business group said the country's jobless rate will fall, to 6.4 percent this year and to 6.1 percent in 2015.
At the same time, a majority of the economists surveyed predicted that the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, would end its direct support of the American economy by the end of 2014. That projection is in line with Fed statements that it expects to curtail its purchase of billions of dollars of securities to boost the economy if its fortunes continue to improve.
As the U.S. economy advances, the economists said they expect the Federal Reserve to increase its benchmark interest rate from the current near zero level to three-quarters of one percent by the end of 2015. Such an increase would ripple through the U.S. economy, with consumers and businesses forced to pay higher interest rates on a variety of types of loans.