Recently we have seen a string of positive economic indicators that all point to the same general pattern. While the individual pieces are subjectively good compared to pre-crisis level, the data gives the clear impression that the economy is modestly trending in a positive direction.

The GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter. The Department of Labor found better than expected payroll growth in January with 243,000 new jobs added. Weekly initial unemployment claims were down this week and the 4 week average is the lowest it has been since May 2008.

In addition Gallup found that economic confidence has been trending upward for five straight months and American’s life rating has been trending upward since October. In addition, Gallup found small business hiring intentions are the best they have been since the begin of 2011. From Gallup:

Trend: Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index -- Future Jobs Expectations

In isolation numbers are not objectively good. At a rate of 243,000 new job per month, it will takes us years to get back full employment. Economic confidence is way up from this summer but still not even as good as it was in much of 2010. Small business hiring intentions is better but not back to pre-crisis levels. The important thing, though, is the clear direction of the trends.

Not surprisingly, President Obama’s job approval numbers on the economy are near perfectly following the same pattern as the economic indicators over the past year. From Gallup:

Trend: Approval of President Barack Obama's Handling of the Economy

For a president having only 38 percent of the country approve of his handling of the economy while 59 percent disapprove is still objectively bad, but the trend is clearly moving in the right direction. This bad job approval number is a serious improvement from the summer.

The same basic thing can be said about the economy and our incumbent president’s approval rating. Not good, but there is a trend towards modest improvement.