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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A look at your net worth, the stock market, and unemployment numbers

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By Clark Howard


Stocks are back at all-time record highs, average household wealth is back to its pre-recession peak, and hiring is better than expected. So is everything hunky dory again? Well, not exactly.

When I talk to people, I sense what I like to call "insecure optimism."

Sure, people have a little more money in their wallets overall, they're spending more and even making the major commitment of buying cars in big numbers for the first time in a few years. Those are all signs of optimism.

But it's kind of like a duck in the water. Ducks appears to be so calm on the surface, yet underneath they're paddling furiously. That's what I sense out there when I talk to people.

Truth be told, things are better, though they may not be in your life. In the midst of more hiring, we have had a stubborn number of people who are unemployed for extreme lengths of time. It's not unusual to drag on for 12 months or longer. A recent caller I had was in her fourth year of unemployment.

So it has been very hard out there. Yet there are reasons to be optimistic, even though there could be reversals yet to come. Just look at car sales, recovering housing values, what's going on with energy and job creation, and a manufacturing industry that is in the throes of a large recovery.

America's not back, but we're well on the path. If it's a nine inning game, we may be going to the bottom of the fifth. We're a little more than halfway toward real recovery in economy.

Those who are older may face a longer work cycle, as they've had to dip into retirement savings just stay afloat. Make no mistake about it, we have had tough time.

Yet if you've given up looking for work, there's a greater chance you'll find work today than we have seen in a long time. Take a chance and get out there. You may be feel beaten up by unemployment, but take a shot again.

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