Since the great recession ended in June 2009, the US economy has experienced weak but steady growth. But, unlike the pattern followed in most prior recessions, weaknesses in both the consumer and government sectors have kept these key components of the economy on the sideline. The interdependence of nations and the economic outlook for the global economy cannot be overlooked in 2012. The real recovery will be underway when the components moving up far outnumber those moving down. While that has not happened so far, the US economy and the global economic outlook for 2012 are improving as the new year begins. National economic events and the outlook for global economic expansion in 2012 will define the nature of the economic recovery that can be expected in Tennessee and Memphis. The reasons why unemployment rates in Memphis and other communities throughout the nation have been so persistently high are twofold -- structural and cyclical.