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Signs point to modest recovery

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Two different measures – a jobs survey and a consumer confidence index – show people think the economy is better off than it was back five years ago at the start of the recession, but the gains are relative.

The Gallup job creation index fell below 20 in December after several months of meeting or surpassing the 20-point mark. The December jobs index --  survey of workers on whether their company is hiring -- is about even to the index in the first three months of 2013 and equal to October.

The job creation index has yet to return to the high of plus 26 back at the start of the 2009 recession. On a positive note, this score was the highest index for a December since December 2008.

The Gallup index is a measure of net domestic hiring based on a sample of 15,000 full- and part-time workers and not a measure of actual jobs created or lost. Workers are surveyed on whether their employer is hiring. For December 35% said yes, while 16% said employers were letting employees go.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence is up beyond what was hoped for December. The Conference Board says that that its U.S. consumer confidence index jumped to 78.1 in December from 72.0 in November.

The report showed that the present situation index climbed to 76.2 in December from 73.5 in November, reaching its highest level since April of 2008.

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