Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Leading Indicators Edge Up for July

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Leading Indicators Edge Up for July

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government's chief economic forecasting gauge signals little improvement in the listless economy until at least next year.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday its Index of Leading Indicators, designed to predict economic activity six to nine months in advance, edged up 0.1 percent in July after falling 0.3 percent in June.

Despite the minor gain, that was hardly good news for President Bush's reection campaign.

"The economy is kind of floundering," said William Dunkelberg, dean of Temple University's business school. "From the politician's point of view, it's the kiss of death."

In another report, the department said construction activity declined 0.6 percent in July, the second consecutive drop and the worst since December. A modest upturn in government construction projects wasn't enough to offset decreases in residential and commercial construction.

Economists said the reports portray a sluggish economy, growing rather than shrinking, but too weak to meaningfully reduce an unemployment rate that jumped from 5.1 percent in June 1990 to an eightar high of 7.8 percent two years later.

The Labor Department is scheduled on Friday to release the August rate. In advance, economists were predicting 7.6 percent, down from 7.7 percent in July. They foresee little further improvement through the rest of the year.

"The economy is essentially dead. It's barely growing, if at all, and there's no sign we're emerging from the stagnation," said economist Lawrence Chimerine, a Philadelphiased adviser to DRI-McGraw Hill Inc.

Before the election, only one more unemployment report is scheduled for release, on Oct. 2. A report on the gross domestic product for the Julyptember quarter is due out a week before Election Day. It likely will be as anemic as the 1.4 percent growth rate in the Aprilne quarter. …

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