Laurenti remains confident in the U.S. economy's ability to adapt, but warns that the results might be slow and incremental. "I'm confident jobs will come back. Job creation will happen. We still need to figure out what will be the next strong sector," he says. "Manufacturing seems to resurging, [jobs will] probably come from exports, which seem to be doing fairly well, health care is doing well."
In the meantime, an uptick in the unemployment rate—economists say it could rise to more than 9 percent again—could signal that the engines of economic recovery are revving up. "The unemployment rate is a lagging indicator. The economy has turned by the time the unemployment rate has turned," Wobbekind says. "You've already started to see the job growth occur, and we might see that unemployment rate going up because people are coming back into the workforce."