Be advised, bank economists and regional managers: If you are interested in the prospects for the Southeastern and broader economies, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart paints a sober picture in an interview on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website.

He predicts it will take three more years to get back to pre-recession employment levels of 2007, and a hard-hit market like metro Atlanta will lag in improvement over that time period as it overcomes the excesses of the boom years.

In trying to calm inflation fears, Lockhart also discusses his favorite metric — the "sticky price" index — for measuring the risk of broad-based inflation.

One positive note: the country is not headed for another recession, he said.