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AP survey: Painfully slow economic gains into 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Associated Press survey of leading economists finds their outlook for 2011 is gloomier than in past polls with only slight improvement forecast.

The latest quarterly AP Economy Survey shows economists are pushing back their estimates of when key barometers of economic health - hiring, spending, expansion - will signal strength.

In their view, shoppers and employers will stay cautious. Households will keep saving. Inflation will remain tame. And unemployment will dip only a bit from the current 9.6 percent rate to around 9 percent at the end of 2011.

In the previous survey in July, the economists predicted unemployment of 8.7 percent at the end of next year. Some now think unemployment won't drop to a historically normal 5.5 percent to 6 percent until at least 2018. That's several years later than envisioned earlier.

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