Any time science ventures outside of the 'hard sciences' like physics or astronomy, it is healthy to exercise a little bit of skepticism, and economics is certainly no exception. Put another way, it can be difficult to determine whether or not a so-called economic recovery is truly a recovery. In this case, though, my gut tells me it's real!
Yes, I believe that the economy is really getting better, because when the 2008 recession hit gas prices skyrocketed and the housing market crashed. Now in 2015, we are no longer in a recession, gas prices are below two dollars, people are still trying to buy homes even though the housing market has not recovered. Therefore the economy has gotten better even though the prices for food at the store still are expensive.
The Stock Market is a place for manipulated speculation. A shadow rich chess match. To say the stock market is an indicator for real market "improvement" is to say that quantitative easing put value into the treasury. Thieving lairs begetting swindling thieves, that is what hte banking system is for,
In my opinion the economy is not getting much better. Yes, maybe there are more jobs openings, or more people being employed at the moment, but most job openings are for part-time, low-paid jobs. People with those jobs don't get benefits, and they can barely survive with their pay. But on paper it looks like things are getting better while in reality they might be even worse.
The stock market isn't 100% tied to the economy of the entire United States. There are quite a few people who aren't affected by the stock market at all. Furthermore, the stock market shouldn't be used a metric to gauge the health of the economy because it never dipped as it should have during the recession. The stock market and economy are not intertwined that closely, plus there's a huge gap in how Americans live. The people involved in the stock market have entirely different lives then the rest of the country.