The latter part of 2011 brought a steady stream of relatively positive readings for the U.S. economy and commercial real estate. The data points failed to shatter any recovery records but they reaffirmed that the economy and the CRE sector are still headed in a positive direction. As recently as the third quarter of 2011, prospects for the continuation of the recovery were being questioned by a number of economists and market participants, and mounting evidence that a retraction is far from occurring is encouraging, especially when it comes to consumer and business sentiment.
The underlying data on jobs, core retail sales and corporate profits beat expectations by a healthy enough margin to substantially reduce recession fears. Private sector hiring in the fourth quarter totaled 466,000, up from 438,000 in 4Q 2010, which helped push private sectoring hiring to 1.8 million for the year. Government job losses appear to be easing and the prior months’ overall job readings have consistently been revised upward for several months. Core retail sales continue to show year-over-year growth in the 5% to 6% range and holiday sales grew by 3.8% over 2010. Consumers are still under tremendous pressure but have shown significant resilience amid the financial-market turmoil and recession talk of the past five months.
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