Daily Video

September 2, 2011

New Economic Numbers Give Mixed Signals

Economists and government officials are poring over a new set of job numbers that give mixed signals but generally show that the U.S. economy and job growth are not improving as much as most would like.

Although first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell, they remain well above the point needed for long-term job growth. Retail sales and manufacturing both grew, but construction spending dropped significantly.

Amid the reports showing a stagnant economy, President Obama is slated to give a speech to Congress next Thursday about a plan to stimulate job growth. One economist says that debt and foreclosures are still the main obstacles to getting the economy growing again, and lawmakers are waiting to see how President Obama’s plan will address these factors.


“I have applied for, I would have to say, pretty close to over 300 jobs in the last year.” – Job seeker

“One [obstacle to job growth] is the debt that’s still hanging over a lot of households. They took on too much debt. And the other is, we built too many houses. And we just haven’t yet reached the point, when you add in the foreclosures as well, where we can get construction spending going again.” -Martin Bailey, economist

Warm Up Questions

1. What is a recession? What do you think the term ‘double-dip recession’ might mean?

2. What kind of data or information do you think would be important to an economist studying job growth? Why?

3. Why is the unemployment rate important? What does it tell us?

Discussion Questions

1. Why would information like new construction or manufacturing indicate how well the economy is doing?

2. What do you think President Obama should say in his speech? How should he help boost job growth?

3. If you were to investigate how the economy is doing where you live, what information would you need to find out? Who would you ask?

Additional Resources

Video Transcript

Making Sense with Paul Solman

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