By John S. McClenahen Will consumers keep the U.S. recovery going? With consumer spending accounting for about two-thirds of the economy, that's nearly a $7 trillion question. And, says Merrill Lynch & Co., New York, if consumer spending is to "maintain a healthy pace" during the second half of this year "we need to see continued meaningful improvements in employment and wages." But there are no guarantees. The private sector of the economy added 277,000 jobs in March. Repeats near that level are needed if consumers are to continue spending. And, frankly, average weekly earnings also need to do better. Merrill notes that wages declined 0.2% in March, "which suggests just a modest rise in personal income during March."