WASHINGTON -- From household wealth to spending at stores, many of the U.S. economy's vital signs have recovered from the damage done by the Great Recession.Home foreclosures and layoffs have dropped to pre-recession levels. Economic output has rebounded. And the Dow Jones industrial average is in record territory.So is the economy back to full health? Not quite.Not with unemployment at 7.7 percent and with 3 million fewer jobs than when the recession began. While the housing market is improving, that engine of economic growth and job creation has far to go before it can be declared healthy.Perhaps the best way to think about the economy is this: After five painful years, it's nearly back to where it started when the recession began. What's different is that the trends are much healthier. Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession."We've made a lot of progress," said Michael Gapen, senior U.S. economist at Barclays Capital.What's backHousehold wealth. Americans lost $16 trillion in wealth during the recession, mainly because home values and stock prices sank. Those losses have been reversed. Household "net worth" reached $66.1 trillion in the final three months of 2012, according to the Federal Reserve. That was just 2 percent below the peak reached in fall 2007. Increased net worth is vital to the economy because it typically drives spending.Retail sales. Just as household wealth has recovered, so has consumers' willingness to spend more to shop, eat out or go on vacation. That trend has spurred job growth at retailers and restaurants. Retail sales totaled $421.4 billion in February.Adjusted for inflation, that's nearly 18 percent above the recession low and just 0.7 percent below the record level in November 2007.Layoffs. The job market remains weak by some measures. But consider this: If you have a job, you're less likely to lose it than at any other point in at least 12 years.That marks a sharp turnaround from the depths of the recession, when layoffs soared -- from 1.8 million in December 2007 to 2.6 million in January 2009.Stock market. Last month, the stock market finally regained the painful losses suffered during the recession. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at an all-time high of 14,253.77 on March 6, and it closed even higher Tuesday, at 14,662.01.The Standard & Poor's 500, a broader measure of the market, reached a record 1,570.25.What's not backTotal jobs. The United States still has many fewer jobs than in December 2007. The recession eliminated 8.7 million. Since then, 5.7 million have come back, leaving the economy 3 million short.Unemployment rate. Probably no figure better illustrates the downturn's lingering damage. When the recession began, unemployment was 5 percent. Now it's 7.7 percent.The unemployment rate is well below the recession peak of 10 percent in October 2009 but far above the 5 to 6 percent associated with a healthy economy.Industrial output. Factories aren't back to their pre-recession peak of output. But they're getting closer.Production was about 5 percent lower in February than in December 2007, according to the Federal Reserve.