On Friday, national unemployment was reported at 9.8 percent with a loss of more than 260,000 jobs, leaving a staggering 15.1 million Americans out of work — a downside surprise to analysts who were expecting a better result for September.
The Dow Jones, which had been on a streak so hot since March that some had begun saying it reflected a new bull market, sagged hundreds of points lower on the week.
And car sales, which had surged during the government’s Cash for Clunkers program in August, hit the brakes in September as the annualized selling dropped from 14.1 million to just 9.22 million in September.
All that’s enough to convince some observers that the economic recovery is faltering and could be heading for a “double dip” recession. And that would mean the recent green shoots of recovery turn out to be just a pause in a much longer economic slide.
Some leading corporate executives worry there’s no economic engine available to drive growth in 2010: Technology, construction, finance — all sectors that have powered the U.S. economy out of the doldrums in the past — are flat this year.
And some boardroom denizens offer a bleak assessment: An economy that was driven by consumer overspending for years and by government overspending for the past year will have a tough time making any headway when the government support is withdrawn.