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There are some signs of economic optimism on the horizon.

Ezra Klein is bubbling over at the Washington Post about reasons why people should be optimistic about the U.S. economy. He gave several signs; here are a few of them:

1) Health-care costs are slowing.

2) Housing is turning around.

3) Corporate profits remain strong.

4) Natural gas.

5) Economic confidence is rising, according to Gallup.

"Just as there are reasons to worry about the U.S. economy," Klein says, "there are reasons to believe the coming years might be better than we think."

John Cassidy at The New Yorker agrees. "Four years after the nadir of the Great Depression, disposable income, consumer spending, and corporate investment are all expanding at a decent clip," he writes. "Employers are hiring more workers, and, perhaps most importantly, the housing market, which has been the biggest drag on the recovery, is finally turning around."

Matthew Yglesias at Slate is optimistic even as he writes about the views of small business owners: "Fifty-one percent of respondents say they anticipate a flat economy next year. Thirty-five percent foresee a recession, while just 14 percent anticipate that the economy will grow next year. By a 47-23 margin, surveyed small-business owners think the national economy is worse than it was one year ago. Particularly troubling to small-business owners is 'economic uncertainty,' which 69 percent of business owners cite as a significant challenge to the future growth and survival of their business."

To this Yglesias says, "So are we doomed? Not really. Delving into the history of NSBA reports, small-business owners appear to be a remarkably grumpy and pessimistic lot."

Another Washington Post story from last month goes over a survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University that says Americans are not so very optimistic.

"Nearly one in four respondents said they were laid off at some point during the past four years, and even larger numbers said they had immediate family members or close friends who were thrown out of work," the Washington Post story says.

Plenty of people found new jobs but took a cut in pay (54 percent) and status. One-third of those re-employed took salary cuts of more than 30 percent.

"Even though the economy has recovered more than half the 9 million jobs lost during the Great Recession," the article continues, "the survey found that Americans perceive that the economy has descended to a new normal."

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