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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid