The long-dormant housing market is reviving. Home prices and sales are up; homebuilders are increasing production to satisfy rising demand.
Personal finances have improved. Loans have been repaid or written off.
Since year-end 2009, the ratio of household debt to disposable income has dropped from 130 percent to 111 percent, according to Federal Reserve data. It's probably still declining.
Over the same period, a rising stock market and higher home values have increased household wealth by almost $10 trillion.
The other piece of good news is the job market.
"The last five months . . . we've seen over 200,000 jobs a month in the private sector," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke noted at his recent news conference.
"Unemployment [insurance] claims are at the lowest level they've been since the crisis."
So two sources of middle-class anxiety and insecurity - jobs and wealth - are slowly easing.
The share of "underwater" homeowners (with mortgages exceeding the value of their homes) has dropped from 21.2 percent in mid-2009 to 14.8 percent in the third quarter of 2012, reports Moody's Analytics.
None of this is conclusive. In recent years, bursts of strong growth have often preceded months of sluggishness.
"I think one thing we would need is to make sure that this is not a temporary improvement," said Bernanke.
The Great Recession has made both consumers and companies cautious spenders.
Other threats to recovery include: adverse side effects from Europe's economic turmoil; another destructive White House-Congress budget confrontation; Obamacare's disincentives for job creation (example: because firms with fewer than 50 workers aren't required to provide health insurance, the temptation is to stop hiring at 49).
Tax increases adopted earlier this year, especially higher payroll taxes, could also slow growth. The same applies to the spending cuts of the so-called sequester.
Still, we might be in for a pleasant surprise.
Having overestimated the recovery's strength for years, chastened economists may now be underestimating it.
They may still be wrong, but this time their error would be a happy one.