A survey of 45 top economists concludes that the recession will probably end by the second half of this year. But the poll from the National Association of Business Economics also suggests the economy will stay soft and the labor market won't improve until next year.
Those surveyed believe the U.S. economy is showing signs of stabilizing.
Chris Varvares, the association's president, says the survey contains good news. "We do expect economic growth to turn positive," he says, "and the pace of jobs losses is expected to narrow sharply over the remainder of this year, with job gains returning in early 2010."
But Varvares says the rebound won't be as strong as it normally is after a deep recession.
The survey suggests the economy will grow by a weak 1.2 percent during the second half of the year and that unemployment will continue to climb to 9.8 percent by the end of the year.
"We know that the credit crunch, the housing problems are working to hold us back," he says. "The fact that we're in a global recession and there's nobody out there to sort of be the No. 1 engine of growth are reasons why we would grow less than would be typical."
One reason growth will remain sluggish is that businesses have cut back on spending and business profits are likely to fall 16 percent this year. And although a report released Tuesday suggests that consumer confidence is rebounding, consumers remain generally cautious about spending.