The U.S. economy is showing cracks

lookahead us economy cracks

 

America’s economy is starting to see cracks after closing out 2014 with Superman strength.

The U.S. job market had its best year of gains last year since 1999, and economic activity hit a whopping 5% in the third quarter — the best quarter since 2003.

Three months later, the U.S. economy is looking a little tired. It’s losing momentum in puzzling ways. Hiring is still strong, but experts are starting to scale back their growth forecasts.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen summed it up well in a speech Friday: “If underlying conditions had truly returned to normal, the economy should be booming.”

Economists say there are two main problems: Workers’ wages aren’t growing much, if at all. As a result, Americans aren’t going out and spending much. On top of that, many foreign economies are slowing down, which puts pressure on the U.S.

The question going forward is whether we’re just in a blip or a bigger shift is taking place.

“The consumer really hasn’t kicked in at full speed ahead,” says Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. “We’re going through a soft patch.”

With March’s jobs report out on Friday, this economic head-scratcher will be in full focus this week.

Signs of slippage: People don’t go out and spend unless they feel confident about the future. There was hope that cheap gas would spur people to feel better about the economy and their pocketbooks. A gallon of gas was $3.53 a year ago. Now it’s $2.42, according to AAA.

But a lot of people are still holding onto that savings. Retail sales and construction on new homes both fell in February, missing estimates. The latest numbers on manufacturing are also weaker than hoped for. All this could just be a winter slowdown, but it’s raising red flags.

Full article: The U.S. economy is showing cracks (CNN Money)

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