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Is The Economy Getting Better?

The Optimism Meter clocked in at 53 on March 2, edging above 50 for the first time since mid-January. Only a quarter of Americans say they think the economy is actually getting better, though that’s a vast improvement from one year ago, when less than 10% said as much.

Each of the charts that follow measures one of the four different components of the Optimism Meter: economic growth, jobs, equity markets, and real estate. Like the Optimism Meter, the components appear on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 representing the highest level of optimism.ECONOMIC GROWTH: EXPANSION AHEAD

HIGHLIGHT: Bloomberg’s survey of 57 economists estimates that U.S. gross domestic product will expand by 3% a year in both 2010 and 2011. Sixty-four percent of respondents think the economy will get worse, and only 25% see improvement ahead.JOBS: OUTLOOK STILL IFFY

HIGHLIGHT: Forty-eight percent of individuals say that if they lost their job, it would be very hard to find a new one that paid as much. That’s down from 49% one week earlier. Economists predict that unemployment will average 9.1% in 2011, down from an average 9.8% in 2010.EQUITY MARKETS: DECLINING RISK

HIGHLIGHT: The volatility of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index continued its year-to-date decline over the past week. Meanwhile, just 18% of individuals expect the stock market to fall over the next 12 months.REAL ESTATE: BETTER THAN BEFORE

HIGHLIGHT: Fifty-eight percent of YouGov survey respondents said that they believed their homes wouldn’t lose value over the next year. Twenty-seven percent think real estate has yet to hit a bottom.

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