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Overseas Headwinds Test U.S. Economy

Wall Street Journal (01/01/15) Josh Zumbrun

The U.S. economy has gained momentum as it enters 2015, with 2.7 million jobs added in 2014 through November and economic output having its best six-month stretch since 2003. Claims for jobless benefits are at their lowest level since 2000, and the economy has recovered all the jobs lost during the recession. If recent trends continue, the labor market in 2015 will reach the U.S. Federal Reserve’s estimates for what is considered full employment. However, the domestic economy will face challenges this year because a number of overseas economies continue to be sluggish. Furthermore, the labor-force participation rate is near the lowest level seen since the 1970s, wage growth is tepid, and many part-time workers want full-time employment but can’t find it.