NBC NATIONAL NEWS — The numbers are in and it's a "mixed bag" when it comes to the economy and consumer confidence.
Shoppers put a little more in their bags during the fourth quarter of last year.
The Commerce Department reports that consumer spending jumped by 2-percent in the last three months of 2011, and the economy grew by almost 3-percent during that time.
A nice bump, but still not enough to prevent last year from being the worst in terms of economic growth since the recession.
On the positive side of the ledger, this year begins on an up-tick driven by a nearly 15-percent surge in auto sales.
Another good sign has been growth in the long-suffering housing market, evidence some analysts believe, that an economic turnaround is underway
Still, most will also tell you any real forward progress won't take a foothold until the job market gets better.
That's something President Obama touched on while talking to students at the University of Michigan Friday.
"We don't want to become a country where a shrinking number of Americans do really well while a growing number barely get by. That's not the future we want," Mr. Obama said. "I want those jobs created here in the United States of America."
And there are some signs that job creation is slowly climbing.
Last month the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent, the lowest it's been in nearly three years, and the sixth straight month of solid hiring.