PORTLAND -- The new year brings a promising financial forecast in Oregon and around the country after a surprisingly robust 2013.

Last year saw rising home prices, auto sales and lowered unemployment. Many analysts said they were surprised by the vigorous economic recovery.

Now, outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says the financial crisis has passed and 2014 looks financially strong.

But experts are predicting increased interest rates for credit cards and home loans along with the economic uptick, which could slow home sales and spending.

This will be the transition year to let the consumer ... transition and find more stability on their own to lift the economy without so much government help, said Tim Phillips, CEO of investment firm Phillips & Co.

Yet many Americans are still struggling. While unemployment is down to 7 percent, 20 million are still out of work.

Many of those people will be looking to re-enter the workforce this year, which could stagnate wage growth.

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