Businesses Are Optimistic About Economic Growth in 2015

 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

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The U.S. economy looks as if it's headed for another good year, according to the latest forecast from a group of business economists.

In its latest survey, the consensus of the National Association for Business Economics panelists peg the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) at 3.1 percent this year—easing to a 2.9 percent annual pace next year. That compares with GDP growth of 2.4 percent last year. "Healthier consumer spending, housing investment, and government spending growth are expected to make outsized contributions to the projected acceleration," said NABE President John Silvia, chief economist of Wells Fargo.

That will help keep the job market humming—with payrolls expanding by about 250,000 new positions a month this year and roughly 216,000 next year. That should drop the jobless rate to 5 percent by the second half of 2016, according to the consensus estimate from the group. Lower gasoline prices are expected to boost consumers spending to a 3.3 percent rate this year. The group is less upbeat about the growth in hourly wages, which are expected to rise by 2.5 percent this year—a bit less than the 2.6 percent gain expected in December's survey. Wages are seen rising by 2.9 percent year, up from last year's hourly pay growth of 2.5 percent.

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