Weak June manufacturing numbers released Monday intensified concern about the fragility of the economic recovery and turned election-watchers’ attention toward unemployment numbers due out at the end of this week.
The reports, just four months before voters cast their ballots in the presidential election, come amid a wave of bad news on the global economy, which is seen by both the White House and President Obama’s critics as the most potent threat to his chances of securing a second term in office.
China’s economy, which helped pull the world out of recession, is slowing dramatically, while the European debt crisis continues to bite at the American recovery. The White House is bracing for the June jobs report on Friday, which economists expect will show gains of roughly 100,000 — not enough to stifle unemployment.
Manufacturing had been a key component of job growth earlier this year, but the index from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) found national factory activity fell in June to 49.7 from 53.5 the previous month. Any reading below 50 shows a contracting in activity, while a reading of 47 would suggest a recession.