Summer Slowing Showing
Construction work saw little improvement in June, adding 2,000 jobs after shedding 35,000 in May. The overall work force has also dropped, contributing to a slight improvement in June's unemployment number.
After a strong start to 2012, the economy has all but screeched to a stop for the summer, as forecasts have been downgraded, job growth has slowed, and consumer confidence is on the decline.
In the first quarter, employers added about 226,000 jobs each month, leading some to believe that the recovery was finally on the verge of takeoff.
But job growth in the second quarter has dropped significantly. Only 80,000 jobs were added in June, according to a Labor Department report, following up 77,000 new jobs in May, accounting for the weakest quarter of job growth since the recovery started in 2010. Unemployment is also up, to 8.2 percent.
Construction jobs bounced back slightly in June by adding 2,000 jobs, but the news is small comfort after a troubling May, when 35,000 workers were laid off. Reports say the dip in construction unemployment – down to 12.8 percent in June, from 14.2 percent in May – came from workers leaving the industry.
Consumer confidence, a key indicator that signifies where spending and economic activity are headed, also declined for the fourth straight month. The Consumer Confidence Index is down to 62.0 from 64.4 in May, and a measure of consumer expectations also fell, implying that the current uncertainty will continue, or get worse, before it gets better.
Finally, forecasts for the rest of the year have been downgraded, and the Congressional Budget Office, among other agencies, is warning of a ''fiscal cliff'' that the U.S. could fall off at the end of the year, when a round of automatic spending cuts goes into effect and the Bush-era tax rates expire. With the November elections looming and no indication from the Federal Reserve for short-term action, aid from Washington seems unlikely, and employers uncertain.