Rural America is leading the recovery of the U.S. economy.

That’s not unusual, said Jason Henderson, vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Omaha Branch.

Henderson, a keynote speaker at the Rural Economic Outlook Conference on the Oklahoma State University Campus in Stillwater, said rural America was the first to come out of the last two recessions.

So far, signs of a recovery are slight, with only a 2 percent growth in gross domestic product for the third quarter, but a 3 percent growth forecast by mid-year 2011. That 3 percent level is a positive or a negative, depending on point of view.

Henderson said the annual rate of growth since World War II has averaged 3 percent, but that level is “below expectations. So, do we focus on the short-term or the long-term?” He said a mentor once told him: “If we take care of monetary policy in the long-term, the short-term takes care of itself.”

Current growth is stymied by a summer slowdown. “Consumer spending was down from March and April.” February snowstorms that slowed sales may have spurred early spring spending. “What happens during Christmas this year,” will be crucial, he said.