Key economic events for the week of Aug. 1

July 31, 2011

A busy week for economic data will be capped off by the July jobs report.

Monday

Analysts expect that the U.S. manufacturing sector continued its steady expansion in July. The Institute for Supply Management is scheduled to release its index of activity in the nation’s factories, which is projected to be little changed from June. Forecasters expect it to come in at 55.4, from 55.3 in June.

Also, new figures on construction spending are expected to have fallen 0.1 percent in June, reflecting continued woes in both residential and commercial building industries.

Tuesday

The Commerce Department releases personal income and spending data for June. Analysts expect the data to show that both rose a steady-as-she-goes 0.2 percent. This data was already reflected in the second quarter gross domestic product release last Friday.

Wednesday

The Institute for Supply Management releases its service index, which is projected to show an acceleration at non-manufacturing businesses in July. Forecasters expect the number to come in at 54, up from 53.3 in June.

Factory orders, however, appear set to have declined 0.1 percent in June, following a solid 0.8 percent gain in May.

Thursday

The International Council of Shopping Centers will release data on sales at major chain stores, offering the first read on how the American consumer held up in July.

Friday

The July jobs report comes in the aftermath of very weak readings on job creation in May and June. The question now is whether employers are as cautious as the mere 18,000 net jobs added in June would imply. Analysts are betting that there will be a rebound, to about 100,000 net jobs added. But economists readily acknowledge that these are very uncertain times and they have less confidence than they did in their forecasts; after all, they have been overly optimistic for two straight months. Still, the number of weekly jobless claims has been coming down lately, offering some reason for modest (very modest) optimism. The unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged at 9.2 percent.

Neil’s Must Reads

Tim Duy examines arguments about how much of the current unemployment problem is driven by structural changes in the economy, as opposed to cyclical factors, in The Economist’s View blog.

Find links at washingtonpost.com/mustreads.

— Neil Irwin

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