The U.S. economy seems to be indicating it is back on a growth track. The second-quarter GDP reading registered an increase of 4%, more than picking up the slack from a 2.1-percent decline during the first quarter as a tough winter slowed American economic activity. But many CEOs and business owners remain worried that the U.S. economy once again could ease off as the year goes on and are being cautious in their decision making.
Up-and-down has been the pattern the last few years as the economy took off at some point during the first halves of 2011, 2012 and 2013, only to falter again later in each year. And in 2014, there’s also recognition by business leaders of an additional factor: Job stagnation has become a major stubborn drag on consumer optimism and therefore on the possibilities for long-term economic growth.
Gains in consumer spending and business investment helped the economy rebound at a 4-percent annualized rate from April through June, better than the 3-percent rate that had been projected by economists. Companies also added 218,000 workers to their payrolls in July, exceeding the average for the year and showing that improving demand is bolstering the employment market.
Many analysts jumped on the gains as a sign that the U.S. economy finally is shifting into a higher growth gear after largely bumping along in the four years since the Great Recession. The U.S. Fed now is seen as having more leeway to stop stimulating the economy with things such as its massive bond purchases.