The U.S. economy is headed for stronger growth in 2014 that will steadily chip away at the unemployment rate, top economists predict in a largely optimistic USA TODAY quarterly survey.
The jobless rate, which dipped to a five-year low of 6.6% in January, will fall to 6.3% by the end of the year, their median forecast indicates.
Job gains, which averaged 194,000 a month last year, will reach a monthly average of 200,000 this year, they predict. Employers added 113,000 jobs in January, well under many economists’ forecasts, the government reported last week.
The economy got off to a slow start in January as a result of financial turmoil in emerging markets, a stomach-churning drop in stock prices and extreme winter weather that kept many shoppers at home. But the economists surveyed expect growth to accelerate after a weak first quarter, reaching a solid 2.8% rate for the year.
“I think we will regain momentum and not fall on our face,” says Diane Swonk, chief economist of Mesirow Financial, drawing a contrast with previous ups and downs in the five-year-old recovery.
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