July Job Cuts Rise Sharply

Cochran predicts that in the coming months "the service industries are going to be equally affected" by the slowdown, adding: "It's hard to see really how almost any industry can avoid slower demand right now."

When Will the Economy Improve?

The main question on everyone's mind, though, is when the current economic slowdown will turn around — a development that would create more jobs across the board. Most observers feel there are still a few tough months ahead, as the economy as whole remains at an eight-year low.

Can Consumers Keep the Economy Going?

"I think there are more job cuts to come," says Berner, although he notes that unemployment figures are a "lagging indicator" of economic health and says some economic growth is possible by the fourth quarter of this year.

"Clearly we're going to see the unemployment rate go up in the second half of the year," adds Cochran, who says a turnaround probably won't come until the first or second quarter of 2002. "It's kind of a frustrating pace of economic growth."

"The hope is that the service economy and consumer spending can prop the economy up long enough to let interest rates take effect," concludes Challenger, who anticipates a better economy "maybe some time early in 2002."

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