Unemployment remains stubbornly high. The housing crisis has chipped away at consumer confidence. Commodities costs have pushed prices for everyday items upward. Yet there are signs the economic picture might be getting better for some Americans -- which means businesses could start working harder to get us to start spending again.

At least, that's what companies should be doing, according to a new J.P. Morgan (JPM) report, Light At the End of The Tunnel: Getting Ready for the Return of the U.S. Consumer.

U.S. consumer balance sheets have recovered to levels not seen in several years, the report says. "This trend could lay the foundation for a recovery in consumer sentiment." Yet despite these signs of improvements, "many firms are not investing in ways that would take advantage of a potential consumer recovery" to get a bigger share of the $10 trillion U.S. consumer market, the report says.

Indeed, "the U.S. consumers' health is not as bad as many assume."

J.P. Morgan cites glimmers of hope in the labor market and consumer debt levels that have the potential to "re-energize the consumer."

For one, job openings increased 23% in September, "a post recession high," the report says.

Meanwhile, total consumer debt has dropped by $800 billion from its peak levels in 2008. In turn, the ability of households to pay down debt is greater today that it was at the outset of the financial crisis, according to the report.

And household savings have increase by 23% since the end of 2006.

Looking ahead, rents are on the rise, which makes home ownership more appealing to consumers, the report says.

"When home prices increase, household wealth increases and consumers feel more comfortable making purchases."

Are things getting better for you? DailyFinance would like to hear your thoughts.




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rellvz

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November 16 2011 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
amani4000

What a bunch of hot air from JP. Gas will be over four bucks a gallon just before Christmas, there goes your "recovery" ! Once the the Laws are followed, recovery will begin.

November 15 2011 at 5:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

I was hoping to see my old nemises, IGreen here again. She thinks Soc. Sec. is the same as welfare. I guess she didn't want to face our displeasure with that stupid idea.

November 14 2011 at 9:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

LIBERALS FEEL THAT RICH PEOPLE LIKE THE OBAMAS DON'T PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE. THAT THEY ARE GREEDY AND SELFISH AND SHOULD NOT HAVE THE WEALTH THAT THEY DO.

November 14 2011 at 8:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to democracks0's comment
democracks0

I KNOW EVAN WOULD SURELY AGREE WITH THAT. HE DESPISES RICH PEOPLE.

November 14 2011 at 8:11 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

BYEBYEOBAMA

November 14 2011 at 7:30 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

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November 14 2011 at 7:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

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November 14 2011 at 7:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

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November 14 2011 at 7:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

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November 14 2011 at 7:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

Sources tell met that seattle is indeed IGreen. I knew there couldn't be two idiots like that.

November 14 2011 at 6:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply