Economists more upbeat about job growth, housing

Associated Press

NEW YORK — A new survey shows economists are growing slightly more optimistic about recovery in the job and housing markets but expect other pillars of the economy to remain weak.

The National Association for Business Economists says in a report issued Monday that its forecasters expect modest growth for the remainder of the year, with the pace picking up in 2013.

Still, the 54 economists NABE surveyed expect consumer spending, business investment and gross domestic product to remain below historic norms.

The quarterly survey compiles expectations for indicators such as hiring, home construction and spending from economists at industry groups, government agencies, banks and consultancies.

Job growth: The panel now expects average monthly job growth for 2012 of 188,000, up from its forecast in February for 170,000 new jobs per month in 2012. The improved outlook would lead the unemployment rate to fall to 8 percent by the end of the year, the economists said. The rate is now 8.1 percent. By the end of 2013, the unemployment rate is expected to ease further to 7.5 percent.

Housing starts: The NABE economists expect housing starts to rise 18 percent to 720,000 units this year and increase again to 850,000 in 2013. Residential investment is forecast to increase 8.8 percent this year; that’s better than the 6.6 percent the economists predicted in February. In 2013, they now expect a 10.4 percent rise, up from 10 percent.