The U.S. will experience moderate gross domestic product growth this year, with the economy growing 2.4% and picking up the most speed in the second half, according to a new survey from the National Association of Business Economists.

NABE drew its conclusions from a panel of 45 economic forecasters who anticipate average monthly job growth of 170,000 this year and an average unemployment rate of 8.3%.

They expect unemployment in 2013 to drop to 7.8%.

Still, NABE says economists are subdued on consumer spending, with real consumer spending expected to increase only 2.1% in 2012 and 2.3% in 2013, below the historic norm of 2.8%.

The report is optimistic about real estate, with the panel saying housing starts will grow 19% in 2012 to 700,000 units, up from 610,000 in 2011. The forecast for 2013 estimates 850,000 housing starts. Residential investment is expected to increase 6.6% in 2012, higher than the 4.3% predicted in November.

While starts are expected to rise on homes, prices tied to home values are expected to decline to a FHFA index score of 0.9% in 2012. By 2013, prices are expected to increase a bit more than 2%, economists said.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

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