Differing economic forecasts abound, so picking one to rely on can be akin to choosing a favorite television weather report.

Hope for the sunny day, but bring an umbrella.

Bank economists are feeling particularly optimistic, compared to their counterparts elsewhere.

Though not predicting a rapid rebound, they contend that the economy is on a sustainable recovery path. They also expect job growth to return this year.

"We're on the cusp of private-industry job creation, which will gain momentum throughout the year," says Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh and the chairman of the American Bankers Association's Economic Advisory Committee.

The consensus of bank economists on the committee is a growth rate of 3.1 percent for the gross domestic product this year, adjusted for inflation. This is about half the normal pace following past deep recessions.

But economist David Levy, chairman of the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y., warns economic growth is likely to sputter within a few quarters, absent a major new federal initiative.

He also anticipates chronically high unemployment over the next decade, averaging 8 percent or more, and lower average pay.

Still, like the bank economists, he foresees inflation staying in check.

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