August Economic Roller Coaster

September 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The economy is once again giving off mixed signals. Retail and auto sales were up in August but other indicators are still lagging. Can the U.S. economy shedding 216,000 jobs in August be good news? It can, if you consider it's the smallest monthly decline since August of last year.

Even as the nation's unemployment rate stands at a 26-year high of 9.7 percent, there are some encouraging signs.

Chrysler is calling nearly 900 employees back to work at the Belvedere, Illinois plant thanks to the success of the cash for clunkers program.

"Seems like there's a greater demand for the more fuel- efficient car. So hopefully that's the case and hopefully we can keep second shift, and you know maybe a third shift come in and all that good stuff," said Chrysler worker Lamar Wooden.

It's hard for many in the public sector to see the silver lining.

"To give up my apartment, this is not funny, it really isn't. This is my job and I need it," said Rhode Island state worker Sharon Moreno. Sharon is one of a thousand state workers in Rhode Island that was laid off yesterday.

The governor announced his decision, after a judge blocked him from forcing 80 percent of state employees to stay home today without pay. "All I know is every day that goes by the situation's getting worst, it's not getting better," said Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri.

Because unemployment is a lagging economic indicator, even if things improve the unemployment rate is expected to hit 10 percent later this year. And it probably won't start going down until well into next year.

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