By STEVE HARGREAVES
Alamy
When will America's economy finally stop limping along? 2014. That's what a growing number of economists are predicting.

Things have been grim since the recession officially ended in June 2009. Job creation is barely outpacing population growth, and our GDP growth is sluggish.

But next year, economists foresee a convergence of several factors that could finally kick this recovery into high gear.

First on the list is the federal budget. After epic fights this year over the "fiscal cliff," the "sequester," and a bunch of other wonky stuff, lawmakers have finally managed to cobble together enough tax hikes and spending cuts to at least stabilize the country's credit rating.

Rising home prices are helping, too. Fewer Americans are trapped in underwater mortgages that leave them owing more on their home than the house is worth. Rising prices also boost the net worth of homeowners, adding to consumer confidence.

Businesses have been complaining for years about "uncertainty" in the public policy area. Next year, some of those unknowns will finally be resolved.

Companies have held off on hiring because they're waiting to see how they'll be affected by health care and finance reform laws, according to John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo (WFC). The implementation details of both of those laws will become clearer over the next year.

"Dodd-Frank and Obamacare need to be worked out, then employment takes off," Silvia said. He believes 2014 "could be a very good year."

Just how good? Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research, thinks GDP growth in the 3.5% to 4% range is possible for 2014, if the global economy doesn't deteriorate. Monthly job growth could peak in the 300,000 range, he believes.

Blitz anticipates a large number of Millennials entering the car-and-home-buying stage of life, giving an added boost to the economy. Plus, the drop in defense spending associated with the draw-down of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan should be largely behind us.

"All of these should add up to a better economy in 2014," Blitz said.

At Merrill Lynch, the economists' projections aren't quite as high -- the bank sees America's economic growth next year at 2.7%. But Merrill Lynch thinks the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates at the end of 2014, versus the 2015 timeframe it projected earlier this year. For that to happen, the bank believes, unemployment needs to fall to 6.5% from its current 7.6% rate -- a feat that would require job growth to accelerate to 300,000 new positions per month.

That's a number that looks more like a real recovery.

The Federal Reserve recently acknowledged that target was possible, when it lowered its unemployment forecast and said it believes the rate may hit 6.5% in 2014.

Stocks and bonds had a fire sale on the news, with investors fixated on the possibility that the Fed may stop pumping money into the economy.

Lost in the panic was the promising idea that 2014 may be the year when we finally put the Great Recession squarely behind us.

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quack916

No way, 2014 will simply be a continuation of what we have now. With 30% of the workforce not working or underemployed, this will only get worse once O-care takes full hold and employers really see how this thing affects profits. There will, as a result, be further off shoring of plants, ops and entire businesses due to healthcare cost and, more signficantly, the fact that the US has the highest corp tax rate in the world. Oh, this doesn't affect me, right? Well the people hired in foreign lands because of the rampant off shoring won't be buying goods and services in the US. California is a great example of what the US is becoming on a larger scale - business is running away from CA, leaving only the takers.

June 26 2013 at 3:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
kent05r

No I am afraid not; Why.....The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, blamed Barack Obama has for the deadlock in global trade talks and called on the White House to show the leadership that would bring almost a decade of fruitless negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Amid growing concern that a complete failure in the stymied Doha round could result in a new era of protectionism, Zoellick accused the United States of peddling "excuses" when officials in Washington called the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) talks structurally flawed.

Zoellick, who was the US's chief trade negotiator under George W Bush, told reporters in Geneva: "I think the facts speak for themselves on whether you have excuses or leadership."

June 26 2013 at 3:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lylenpat

2014 will be the year that O -care takes the economy into the pit. It will also be the year that the Taliban and al Qaeda gain major ground within Afghanistan and the Middle East. You ask why, because of the "Out of Touch" President and his foreign policies which are none, zilch, zero.

June 26 2013 at 12:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
kpamesa

Considering the liberals think the economy HAS taken off, isn't your headline question just a bit tongue-in-cheek? Unless and until the gladhanders wake up and realize that giving away the barn to buy the horse just doesn't make good economic sense, you can prognosticate all you want about "when" the economy will turn around. Methinks your estimate of 2014 is just wishful thinking.

June 25 2013 at 11:09 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
mamabrevard

I have read all about founding fathers, those were the ones that cared about the people and the United States...the ones in congress and senate and any form of position are out for themselves. that is call greed. Nothing will grow until greed stops.

June 25 2013 at 10:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Gajendran Ramen

In this global economy, the sustained economic growth in the US could be achieved based on domestic job growth, local manufacturing, private business growth and tourism. Federal Reserve should keep an eye on the inflation of commodity items and the behavior of wall-street. The US government should encourage the international investors to invest their money in the US using some conditions, not to pull their money out of the US for at least 7 years, and also encourage the start-up companies and new entrepreneurs by giving tax credits. Tax code needs to be revised for the middle income working class families and private businesses. Monitoring Commodity price and hedge fund investment is very important. Our founding fathers worked so hard to keep the US as a role model for other countries. We should not loose that identity.

June 25 2013 at 8:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dcn140

2014 will show a downturn for the economy. Obamacare will actually take effect and hurt employment and the latest showing by Obama of his energy policies will have dire consequences. He couldn't get his "cap & trade" policies thru legislatively so he is now issuing executive order and going thru the EPA. When energy costs rise as dramatically as they will under these policies, it will efect everything. Not only will it cost more to heat or cool your home and cost more for your gas...the cost of all goods will rise for everyone. A bad time to initiate a poor range of policies. Must say it's not surprising though.

June 25 2013 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kayo1025

I'm sure they meant to say "fall" off, not "take" off.

June 25 2013 at 5:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
pbgardenpet

Not if obama is still in office.

June 25 2013 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kentblackdog

Do not expect the economy to do much in 2014-----REASON--------------a huge chunk of people's disposable income, will go to pay for OBAMACARE---assuming they even have any money to pay for it or the FINE that is coming if you do ot pay

If anyting, the economy could show a downturn, as many full time jobs, become 28 hr a week jobs as busniess and goverment, adjust to the new costs associated with OBAMACARE

Happy days are here again, for a select few anyway

June 25 2013 at 5:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply