The depth of the recent recession and the slow growth that has followed it have led some commentators to describe this economic cycle as “the new normal.”

But some economists are reporting some positive signs that could result in significant job growth in the months ahead.

Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, was quoted in The New York Times on Sunday, saying he sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

Two sets of numbers give him cause for optimism: At this time last year, Shepherdson said, the total stock of commercial and industrial bank credit was $1.3 trillion and was contracting at $7 billion a week. Now the contraction has stopped, and the stock of credit is finally climbing slowly.

The more money available for small-business loans, the better for the economy, especially when it comes to job creation.

Small businesses created more than two-thirds of the jobs during the last business cycle, Sheperdson said, and they are much more reliable job creators than big businesses, which have the option of hiring offshore.

Increased investment by small business will result in more jobs domestically, which Shepherdson predicts will result in real employment growth by next summer.

He comes to this question with more credibility than other prognosticators: Gretchen Morgenson, the writer of the Times piece, says he was one of the few to warn his clients about the coming real estate collapse in 2005.

This time, he’s not predicting a lightning recovery, but anything would be better than “the new normal.”