Obama intends to highlight that progress to economists and other guests at the White House on Monday, and his National Economic Council is set to release a report detailing the economic advances.

Obama planned to discuss the economy as part of an interview airing Sunday on ABC's This Week and scheduled a speech Wednesday to the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from the biggest U.S. companies.

But the public is not convinced that the economy is on the mend. Only one-third say the economic system is more secure now than in 2008, and 52 percent say they disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy, according to a Pew Research Center poll. There is still plenty of pain to justify their pessimism.

Despite job growth, the unemployment rate remains high at 7.3 percent. Though the rate has fallen, one of the reasons is because some people have dropped out of the labor force and no longer are counted as job seekers. The income gap between the very rich and the rest of the population is the biggest since 1928.

"We have genuinely made progress," Furman said. "We genuinely have more work to do."

What's more, some banks that received government aid because they were deemed "too big to fail" are now bigger than they were in 2008, but they are smaller as a share of the economy than the largest banks in other big economies. Three years after Obama signed a sweeping overhaul of lending and high-finance rules, execution of the law is behind schedule.

"We should not accept a financial system that allows the biggest banks to emerge from a crisis in record-setting shape while ordinary Americans continue to struggle," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who watched over the bank bailout as head of a special oversight panel.

This glass-half-empty-glass-half-full state of the economy has produced competing story lines about the role Obama's administration has played in getting the country to this point. Did Obama's approach validate the philosophy of spending your way out of crisis or did some of his policies actually slow the recovery?

If you liked this article you might like

What's Behind the Surge in Energy Stocks

Hillary Clinton Says Prosecuting Individuals is Key to Wall Street Reform