PORTLAND — The economic recovery is just around the corner – as long as you define the corner as being about five years down the road, one of the state’s leading economists said.

Charles Colgan, a professor with the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Policy, said he has tempered some previous optimism about the recovery from the recession and predicted that Maine won’t regain the jobs lost during the last two years until 2017.

Colgan said his forecasts in recent years have generally been on target in predicting little or no growth in the near term, but he has been wrong in thinking a more robust recovery is just a year or so away.

“2012 in Maine will look an awful lot like 2011,” Colgan said in his annual forecast, delivered to a morning meeting of USM’s Corporate Partners program. That means little growth in jobs and no sustained recovery, Colgan said.

There’s a chance his forecast could be wrong, Colgan said, but added that the odds that he’s being too optimistic are greater than the likelihood that the recovery speeds up this year.

Colgan noted that major uncertainties include how Europe solves its debt crisis; whether Iran follows up on threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil shipments; and how well Washington handles a number of issues, from payroll tax cuts to the federal budget.

Colgan said he expects the next year “to be a really good year for federal fiscal policies.”


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