All Eyes On Unemployment Numbers

By John S. McClenahen Executives, economists, and just about anyone else not on vacation will be looking to tomorrow's jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A small uptick in unemployment will confirm that the once torrid pace of the U.S. economy -- now in its ninth year of expansion -- is cooling. No change -- or a small decrease in unemployment -- is likely to cause another contraction on Wall Street as concerns return that the Federal Reserve will raise short-term interest rates at its Aug. 22 meeting. "We're probably looking at the economy slowing to the 3% range by the third quarter," says Jerry J. Jasinowski, president of the National Assn. of Manufacturers, Washington. "If the data continue to show slower growth, the Fed should leave rates unchanged and watch our economy downshift into a slower but sustainable pace."

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