NJ Residents Try To Figure Out The Up And Down Economy [AUDIO]
There's some good economic news - the Labor Department reports weekly unemployment benefit applications dropped by 14 thousand, to a seasonally adjusted 374,000, the fewest since the week of May 19th.
Gas prices also continue to drop.
But the bad news is job creation numbers continue to be low, retailers report weak sales for June as worries about the economy and jobs are making shoppers pull back on spending. The manufacturing sector contracted in June for the first time in three years, and consumer confidence is also dropping.
So what's going to happen to the economy?
Rutgers economist James Hughes says, "Rarely do all economic statistics move in lock step -in many cases even during a normal recovery we're going to have some statistics pointing up, positively - others not so positively - and that's what we're seeing now."
He says, "The overall economy is still beset with a high level of uncertainty…European problems have not been fully resolved, we're having slow growth in Asia… Number 3 is the uncertain future tax situation in the United States, and the 4th is the Presidential election campaign…And until all of those factors are resolved, or at least settled into place, corporations are going to be very conservative in their decision-making - and that's reflected in the lower levels of hiring we've seen the past several months."
He also points out consumers may still continue to spend, even when their confidence is dropping - and the recent drop in consumer spending may reflect concern in the job market.
"We started the year very, very strong in terms of job growth, but then we tapered off quite markedly the past several months…So the second of the year will be an extension of what we've seen the past several months - it's going to be slow growth…The uncertainties that beset the economy are still going to be there."