Forecasters Boost Outlook for US Economy

Business forecasters boost outlook for US economy

The March report from the National Association for Business Economics forecasts more hiring, a lower unemployment rate, a lower inflation rate and more growth in consumer spending in 2015, compared to the group's forecast December 2014.

Highlights of the association's forecast include:

-On average, the economy should add 251,000 jobs per month in 2015 and then 216,000 per month in 2016.

-The U.S. unemployment rate - now 5.5 percent, the lowest in seven years - is expected to dip to 5.4 percent in December and then decline to 5.1 percent in 2016.

-Gross domestic product is expected to grow 3.1 percent in 2015, unchanged from the December forecast.

-The federal deficit is expected to total $460 billion in fiscal 2015 and $453 billion in the 2016 fiscal year.

-The group's forecast for Standard & Poor's 500 index, on average, is to end 2015 at 2,150 and end 2016 at 2,262.

-Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, is expected to decline 0.6 percent in 2015, a big improvement over December's forecast that it would increase by 1.7 percent.

-Consumer spending is forecast to increase by 3.3 percent in 2015 and to increase by 3 percent the following year.

2015 AP