Business news stories and op-ed columns are filled with comments about the economy picking up steam. The case is less obvious to those of us who look at the data. February's reported job growth of 236,000 wasn't bad, but it was not quite as good as the 271,000 job gain reported last February or the 311,000 new jobs reported for January of 2012. It pays to step back and look at the big picture. Most forecasts show growth under 2.0 percent in 2012. We have little reason at this point to assume that these forecasts are overly pessimistic.