Consumers are starting to open their wallets again, as new economic figures show a rise in factory output, a slightly better jobs picture and increased retail sales.
Americans aren't just buying necessities; they're beginning to once again purchase bigger-ticket items like clothing, cars and jewelry, The New York Times
More than a year after the late 2008 economic meltdown, people are saving a bit less and spending a bit more -- a trend economists say could help drive the recovery.
Retailers reported better-than-expected earnings in recent periods and more positive news is expected Thursday, when they post their March sales numbers.
Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com
, told the Times the consumers' mood has gone from panicked to cautious to "almost a bit giddy."
Still, economists warn, if these are indeed signs of bounce back, it's still only the beginning. A full economic recovery could take years.