Survey: 2011 Economy Going to be Bumpy

In this photo made Feb. 22, 2010, a sold sign sits outside a new home in Houston. Sales of new homes plunged to a record low in January, underscoring the formidable challenges facing the housing industry as it tries to recover from the worst slump in decades.(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

A new survey suggests economic recovery will be fitful and somewhat uncertain into next year.

The Associated Press survey of leading economists suggests the pillars of Americans' financial security, jobs and home values, will stay shaky well into 2011.

Three-fourths of the economists say that as a result, the Federal Reserve will be forced to keep interest rates near zero until at least the final quarter of this year.

The survey finds the unemployment rate will stay stubbornly high the next two years, inching down to 8.4 percent by the end of 2011.

The survey says home prices will remain almost flat for the next two years.

Recession Over? Not so Fast Say Some Economists

The new AP survey will be conducted quarterly. It compiles forecasts of leading private, corporate and academic economists on a range of indicators.

Below are some of the findings:

HOUSING

- Sale prices of previously occupied homes: In 2010, a decline of 0.1 percent. In 2011, a 2.3 percent increase. Prices tumbled 10.7 percent last year.

- Number of previously occupied homes sold: In 2010, 5.4 million. In 2011, 5.9 million. There were 5.2 million sales last year.

JOBS

- Unemployment rate: In April, 9.6 percent. In December, 9.3 percent. In December 2011, 8.4 percent. Rate has been stuck at 9.7 percent since January.

- Net job creation: In April, 198,171. In May, 247,780. In June, 125,244. Employers added 162,000 jobs in March.

ECONOMIC GROWTH

- Gross domestic product: In the first three months of the year, 3 percent growth. In the second quarter, 3.7 percent. For the year, 3.1 percent. The economy shrank 2.4 percent in 2009, the most since 1946.

INFLATION

- For 2010, a 1.7 percent rise in consumer prices. In 2011, a 2.1 percent increase. Prices rose 2.7 percent in 2009.

INTEREST RATES

- More than three-fourths of the economists said the earliest the Fed would begin lifting key interest rates is the fourth quarter of this year.

- A majority - 29 - said the Fed's timing would be "about right" to enable growth without stoking inflation. But 15 predicted the Fed will be "too slow" in boosting rates, which could raise inflation risks.

SAVINGS

- A savings rate of 4 percent this year and 3.9 percent next year. Last year, Americans saved 4.3 percent of their disposable income. That was the most since 1998.
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