Notwithstanding the confusing August employment numbers (both the jobless rate and payroll employment declined), two recent reports suggest job growth will stay subdued. Challenger Gray Christmas Inc., an outplacement firm, counted nearly 47,000 planned corporate job cuts in August. That's the second-highest monthly tally of layoff announcements since January.
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Business reports that its small-business optimism index in August fell back to recession levels. Expectations of better economic conditions by small business owners, who are responsible for all of the job growth in recent years, sagged to a 20-year low.