- Cullman, Alabama


September 9, 2013

Economy in limbo

CULLMAN — What’s going on with the U.S. economy?

Politicians celebrate and pound their chests when the unemployment number drops. Don’t we all?

Employers added 169,000 jobs in August but many fewer in June and July than previously thought, the Labor Department said Friday. Combined, June, July and August amounted to the weakest three-month stretch of job growth in a year.

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest in nearly five years. But the Labor Department said the unemployment rate appears to drop because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed.

The report shows an economic environment that remain uneven. In a country that has outsourced jobs and squeezed for higher profits to satisfy shareholders, many new jobs are low paying and hiring remains slow. In the past three months, employers have added an average of just 148,000 jobs. The average monthly gain for 2013 so far is 180,000, slightly below the 183,000 average for 2012.

The American business community may well be hesitant to put a foot forward with all the chaos spewing out of Washington. Congress remains in self-destructive partisan political mode. The president is out of step with Congress and threatening to launch a new war campaign.

Meanwhile, issues such as immigration and the federal health plan remain unresolved. Investments could be picking up, bringing more job opportunities. But a lot of business industrial leaders seem hesitant. Much of the blame for that hesitancy rests with the nasty atmosphere that has settled over Washington.

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