Editorial: Reasons for optimism in 2014

The American public could perhaps best be described as disgruntled in 2013, according to the responses to the recent AP-Times Square New Year's Eve poll, dissatisfied with politicians, the economy and the direction of the country.

But the new year is a time to celebrate fresh starts and optimism. And as we close the door on 2013 and step into 2014, there are reasons to be optimistic.

A report Tuesday indicated that consumer confidence jumped in December, behind steady job gains and a surging stock market.

The confidence index was at its highest annual level in 2013 since the recession began.

Optimism about the job market is at a five-year high, according to an Associated Press report. Employers added an average of 200,000 jobs a month in the past four months, which has pushed the unemployment rate to a five-year low of 7 percent.

A better job market will likely drive more consumer spending, and spending trends - despite reports of disappointing holiday sales - seem to indicate that consumers are making more big purchases such as new vehicles and appliances.

More Americans are planning to buy a home in the next six months than at any point since July.

That's good news amid another report that sales of existing homes have fallen from September to November, but that total home resales should reach 5.1 million in 2013, which would be the highest total in seven years and 10 percent higher than in 2012.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was headed for its best annual return since 1997, another sign the economy is on the right track.

And while political gridlock and bickering is expected to continue to dominate in Washington, the 2014 mid-term elections are an opportunity for those disgusted with party politics to make their voices heard.

For many, 2013 is a year they'd sooner forget. So as we bid farewell to 2013 we can have solace knowing that 2014 is looking a little brighter.