Although the recession is still choking the US economy, optimism is seeping into the air. True, the jobless rate is hovering at 9.7 percent with over 11 million people still claiming unemployment benefits. True, the recession has been declared dead many times before, but an outbreak of good news is nothing to sneer at. Six reasons to be cheerful about the economy:

1. Jobs are proliferating: 162,000 new positions sprung up in March, the government announced on Friday. Even if you discount temporary census jobs, the addition of 123,000 private sector jobs marks the sharpest growth since May 2007.

2. The service sector is expanding again: Industries such as healthcare, retail and financial services grew at the fastest pace in almost two years. This suggests the nation's economic recovery "is expanding from the nation's factories to its shops, restaurants, hospitals and other big sources of jobs," says Tali Arbel at the AP.

3. More homes are going into contract: Pending sales of existing homes rose unexpectedly in February, reports CNN Money. The number of signed contracts grew by 8.2 percent, the highest month-to-month rise since October 2001. Economists had been predicting a 1 percent decrease.

4. The iPad's success is contagious: The extraordinary success of the Apple's iPad — with an estimated 700,000 units sold in its first weekend — has caused the entire tech sector to surge. Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Cisco and Intel all saw their stocks gain as a result of iPad sales figures. Apple's stock price jumped by 27 cents a share.

5. The stock market is ticking upwards: Good news about jobs and home sales provoked a stock rally, says Alexandra Twin at CNN Money. Crude oil prices jumped to an 18-month high and the Dow Jones industrial average crept within 11 points of 11,000, a "key psychological level" that has not been regained since Lehman Brothers' collapse threw the market into freefall in September, 2008.

6. Top economists are bullish: The oft-gloomy Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chair, has spied the green shoots of economic recovery. "There is a momentum building up," Greenspan told ABC News, adding that the odds of a so-called "double dip recession" have "fallen very significantly," even if a full recovery will still take some time.