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Monday, June 28, 2010

What to Watch for This Week

The Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence Index for June on Tuesday. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index suggests consumers are less optimistic in June while last week's increase in the Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index implies just the opposite. Of course, the Conference Board use of a mail survey makes its results hard to predict.

Regardless, the big story this week involves jobs -- and that picture may also be somewhat confusing. Gallup's Job Creation Index and Underemployment measures suggest job conditions have been improving on a not-seasonally-adjusted basis when temporary census workers are included. In turn, this implies that the BLS is likely to report on Friday that the U.S. unemployment rate remained the same or improved slightly in June. Suggestions that census taker layoffs may increase the June unemployment rate seem premature.

Of course, the real question is what happens as the temporary census workers lose their jobs later this summer. At this point, any new jobs are a good thing -- but the reverse is also true.

Gallup's consumer spending data has fallen back to last year's "new normal" during June. An increase in the unemployment rate as census jobs disappear seems unlikely to help the situation -- not good news for retailers or the economy this summer.


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