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PNC: 2011 Struggled but Grew

The 2011 economy might look different depending on your personal situation, but from where PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman is standing, it was a relatively good year.

Hoffman said that the US economy overcame, but just barely, several hurdles: "Struggles and challenges coming out of Europe, much higher gasoline and energy prices through the first half of the year, a lack of any action in Washington to deal with the fiscal deficit."

Despite those issues, the U.S. economy grew by about 2 percent in 2011. Hoffman also notes the 1.5 million jobs that were created as another positive sign in 2011. The national unemployment rate will likely finish the year at 8.75 percent, and the Pennsylvania rate is expected to be around 7.9 percent.

Hoffman said that those rather sluggish, but positive, numbers allowed the "double dip recession" proponents, or "Chicken Littles" as Hoffman calls them, to continue to get attention. "One, because bad news sells… and probably the average individual has a little trouble distinguishing between moderate growth around 2 percent and what they would consider recession," said Hoffman.

"Unfortunately, we can't drive a stake through the heart of these vampires and put them, and us, out of our misery," said Hoffman.

Hoffman said that the US and the region should continue to see economic growth in 2012.