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Outlook for U.S. Economy Darkens After Disappointing Reports on Hiring, Housing, and Factories

Associated Press (06/05/12)

The faltering U.S. job market has prompted economists to take a much dimmer view of the country’s growth prospects in recent weeks. “The latest economic data have been decisively disappointing,” Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, wrote in a client note. JPMorgan Chase sharply reduced its growth forecast for the July-September quarter to a 2% annual rate, down from 3%. It cited the weaker U.S. hiring and a likely drop in U.S. exports related to slower growth overseas. JPMorgan Chase now forecasts growth of 2.1% for 2012, down from 2.3%.

As a general rule, it takes about 2.5% growth to generate enough hiring to keep up with population growth and prevent the unemployment rate from rising. The reduced forecasts suggest that hiring may not strengthen much this year. After months of fitful expansion since the recession ended three years ago, many analysts had expected the economy to begin strengthening steadily. In April, the Federal Reserve raised its forecast for growth this year to nearly 2.7%, from a January estimate of 2.5%. Now, it looks as if the recovery is stumbling again.