News / USA

Upbeat US Economic News Boosts Hopes for Sustained Recovery

Michael Bowman

In U.S. economic news, retail spending surged last month amid continued low inflation - a sign that Americans believe better economic times lie ahead. Meanwhile, the head of the U.S. Central Bank says a modest economic recovery will continue, but that the United States will be hard pressed to replace millions of jobs lost during a severe economic recession that ended late last year.

For months, economists have wondered whether a fledgling economic upturn would last, or if the United States would sink back into recession amid constrained credit conditions and reluctance by businesses to hire new workers and consumers to return to the free-spending ways of the past.

But the latest report from the Commerce Department shows Americans opening their wallets, with retail sales spiking 1.6 percent in March after rising 0.5 percent in February. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, and jumps in sales typically lead businesses to boost production, which could have a positive impact on America's stubbornly-high unemployment rate.

Separately, the Labor Department reports consumer prices rose a miniscule 0.1 percent in March, and were unchanged from February if volatile food and energy prices are excluded.

Addressing House and Senate lawmakers on Capitol Hill, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested the economic recovery - however modest - looks real and sustainable.

"A recovery in economic activity appears to have begun in the second half of last year," said Ben Bernanke. "On balance, the incoming data suggests that growth in final demand will be sufficient to promote a moderate economic recovery in coming quarters. Consumer spending continued to increase in the first two months of this year. Going forward, consumer spending should be aided by a gradual pick-up in jobs and earnings, the recovery in household wealth from recent lows, and some improvement in credit availability."

But the central bank chief was quick to add that economic hurdles remain.

"To be sure, significant restraints on the pace of recovery remain, including weakness in both residential and non-residential [home and building] construction and the poor fiscal condition of many state and local governments," he said.

Bernanke said America's ballooning national debt will constrain America's economic growth prospects over the long term, and that the U.S. job market will continue to be tight for months, perhaps years to come.

"Recently, we have seen some encouraging signs that layoffs are slowing and that employment has turned up," said Bernanke. "Manufacturing employment increased for a third month in March. New claims for unemployment continue on a generally-downward trend. However, if the pace of recovery is moderate, as I expect, a significant amount of time will be required to restore the 8.5 million jobs that were lost during the past two years."

U.S. markets seem to be giving a vote of confidence to the nation's economic prospects, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently climbing above 11,000 for the first time since 2008. World markets were mostly higher Wednesday amid healthy earnings reports from computer chip-maker Intel as well as banking giant JP Morgan Chase.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs