Several Wharton experts are fairly pessimistic about the recovery. Positive growth may not be here yet, and even when it does arrive, it will probably take several years for employment rates to return to so-called normal levels, they say.

Their take on the recovery was recently published in an article by Knowledge@Wharton. Even if the U.S. gross domestic product turns positive by the end of 2009, "the American economy will remain close to the bottom of the large trough that began in late 2007, with a long way to climb for jobs, home prices and other key economic indicators just to get back to where they were," the article notes.

Some interesting observations from economists in the Knowledge@Wharton report include:

Franklin Allen, a finance professor at Wharton and co-director of the Wharton Financial Institutions Center: He's especially concerned about structural joblessness. A record number of unemployed workers have been without a job for more than six months.

Wharton professor of finance Nicholas Souleles: Some firms may be slow to add new workers, if they're uncertain about the strength of the recovery.

Mauro Guillen, Wharton professor of international management and sociology and director of the Lauder Institute at The University of Pennsylvania: People now realize they need to save more and are doing so, but reduced consumer spending that results can put downward pressure on economic growth, continuing to slow the pace of new hiring.

 Francis X. Diebold, co-director of the Wharton Financial Institutions Center: While things look better than they did late last year, he is concerned that as things improve a sharp rise in interest rates would stop a recovery before it takes off.

Sigal Barsade, a professor of management at Wharton: Her work has shown that people who are surrounded by smiling, cheerful people become happier themselves, and she says that optimism about the economy, from the workplace to the mall, can also be contagious.