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U.S. economists gain confidence

April 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM

NEW YORK, April 23 (UPI) -- A quarterly survey of U.S. economists points to an improved outlook for the rest of 2012, compared to the previous survey.

USA Today reported Monday that the median estimate for the economy in the most recent survey pointed to 2.5 percent growth in 2012. In the previous survey, the median estimate – the point where half the economists forecasts where higher and half were lower – pointed to growth of 2.3 percent for the year.

"Things are getting better. The economy is picking up and hiring is going to be on the rise," said economist Jeff Rosen at Briefing Research in Chicago.

Economists predict the unemployment rate will drop to 8 percent in the fourth quarter, which would be a promising sign for President Barack Obama's hopes for a second term in office.

Gasoline prices, dropping now from a national average of nearly $4 per gallon, are expected to return to $4 per gallon by Independence Day and drop off to $3.80 per gallon by Election Day, which is high from an historic perspective, but could play well for the president's re-election campaign, given – if forecasts are correct – prices will be trending lower headed into November.

The National Association for Business Economists found a similar upswing in sentiment. The number of economists predicting economic growth of 3 percent or more this year has tripled compared to NABE's January survey.

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