It may seem as if professional economic forecasters are only about as accurate as the Magic 8 Ball you played with as a kid, but it’s hard to be pessimistic in the face of the latest economic indicators. From spending to housing starts to consumer confidence, there are reasons to think that the economy is on the mend. Home prices have been flat in recent months, but on a year to year basis, U.S. prices rose for the first time since December 2006. People who are not selling their homes are spending more on them. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, remodeling activity should rise five percent this year.
And while the jobless rate has held steady at just under ten percent, more companies are seeking to make hires. The number of job postings in the country rose 19 percent in March, according to Indeed.com, in a survey of websites and classified ads. Retail sales for March were also up, according to the Census Department. The agency reported a 1.6 percent rise over February, and a 7.6 percent rise over the same month in 2009. And in other encouraging news, the Conference Board reports that consumer confidence is up to levels not seen since September 2008. So while this “jobless recovery” may not be over yet, a number of trends are giving retailers reason to hope.