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10 Reasons Why 2014 Was The Best Year For The U.S. Economy Since The Great Recession

Not great, but definitely better. Here's some good economic news for the yuletide.

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The economy grew at a 5% annual rate in the third quarter, coming off 4.6% growth in the second quarter, driven by increases in business investment, consumer spending, and defense spending.

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2. And new jobs are being created at the fastest rate since the financial crisis. In 2014, an average of 241,000 new jobs were created every month, compared to 194,000 a month in 2013.

3. Jobless claims — a measure of new unemployment claims — also plummeted to 280,000 in the week of Dec. 20, down from 339,000 a year ago.

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4. With all this job growth, the unemployment rate fell under 6% for the first time since July 2008 in September. Right now it's sitting at 5.8%.

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5. One big boost to American consumers, especially in the last few months, has been a crash in the price of oil, from a high of over $100 in June to around $55 today.

6. This has meant an epochal decline in gas prices. A year ago, according to AAA, the average price for regular gas was $3.26, now it's $2.35, a decline of almost 28%.

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7. U.S. industry sped up its growth and output in 2014, with the industrial production index, a measure of the output of factories, utilities, and mines, shooting up towards the end of the year.

8. Consumers are feeling better too. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index has been on the rise all year.

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9. Even the stock market, after rising 33% in 2013, continued to rise 12.6% so far this year, even after some gyrations in the fall.

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10. And IPOs hit a post-1990s high. According to Renaissance Capital, 273 companies went public in the US, raising a total of $85 billion, up 55% from 2013. The biggest by far was the IPO of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, which raised almost $22 billion.

Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.

Contact Matthew Zeitlin at matt.zeitlin@buzzfeed.com.

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