Consumer spending rose in 2012, but not by as much as the year before. In December, these shoppers were out and about in Glendale, Calif. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The scene at a career fair in New York City last fall. Mike Segar /Reuters /Landov hide caption

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At a job fair in New York City earlier this year, a man waited for an interview. Economists say the job market is slowly improving, and the latest data on jobless claims seem to support that analysis. Spencer Platt/Getty Images hide caption

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Looking for work: There was a long line last month as job seekers waited to get into an employment fair at Kennedy-King College in Chicago. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Better than expected: Economic growth was higher in the third quarter than first thought. Here, a worker at a Ford plant in Michigan plugs a batter into a Ford C-MAX plug-in hybrid vehicle. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images hide caption

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