The brighter jobs outlook follows five straight months of declining unemployment. One reason the rate has fallen so fast is that fewer out-of-work Americans have started looking for jobs. The Labor Department doesn't count out-of-work people as unemployed unless they're actively seeking jobs.
Many economists have been surprised the stronger economy hasn't led more people without jobs to start looking for work. If many more were looking, the unemployment rate would likely be higher.
On Friday, the government will issue the jobs report for February. Economists expect it to show that employers added a net 210,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate remained 8.3 percent.
The AP survey collected the views of two dozen private, corporate, and academic economists on a range of indicators. Among their forecasts:
Americans will save gradually less and borrow more, reversing a shift toward frugality that followed the financial crisis and the start of the Great Recession.
Obama deserves little or no credit for declining unemployment. Only one of the 19 economists who answered the question said Obama should get "a lot" of credit. They give most of the credit to U.S. consumers, who account for about 70 percent of economic growth, and to businesses.
The economy has begun a self-sustaining period in which job growth fuels more consumer spending, which should lead to further hiring.
European leaders will manage to defuse their continent's debt crisis and prevent a global recession. But the economists think Europe's economy will shrink for all of 2012.
The economy will grow 2.5 percent this year, up from the economists' earlier forecast of 2.4 percent. In 2011, the economy grew 1.7 percent.
For months, the U.S. economy has shown signs of steady improvement. Employers added more than 200,000 net jobs in December and January. The jobless rate is at its lowest level in three years.
Industrial output jumped in January after surging in December by the most in five years. Auto sales are booming. Even the housing market shows signs of a turnaround.
Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers, expects factory output to rise 4 percent this year, better than in 2011. Manufacturers will have to continue hiring to keep up with demand, he said. That will help lower the jobless rate to 8 percent by Election Day, he predicted.
Mike Englund of Action Economics noted that the declining unemployment was due, in part, to the fact that fewer were seeking work. "Most of this recent drop in the unemployment rate is due to a mass exodus" from the work force, Englund said.