Despite promising job numbers nationwide, the growing unemployment rate could stifle hiring in Indiana, experts warned.
President Barack Obama embraced Friday's report of new jobs in July as another sign of slow, if steady, job growth, while Republican Mitt Romney called an uptick in the jobless rate, from 8.2 to 8.3 percent, a "hammer blow" to the middle class.
University of Indianapolis economist Matt Will said the jobs numbers are better, but not the 300,000 to 400,000 new jobs the country needs to bring down the jobless rate, RTV6's Norman Cox reported.
"The production-manufacturing index, which is kind of the break-even point for whether the economy is growing or contracting on a real-time basis, for the second month in a row now, that number is below 50, which means the production economy is contracting," Will said. "That is not a good sign."
Will doesn't normally predict recessions, but he said he fears the country has reached the tipping point to push into another one.
Business leaders said companies that have money to hire simply won't risk cash in the current atmosphere of uncertainty.
"They don't know what their income tax rate is going to be. They don't know what their health care costs are going to be. They don't know really what their energy costs are going to be," said Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar.
The unemployment uptick would normally doom an incumbent president during an election year, but Margaret Ferguson, a professor of political science at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis said Obama benefits because Romney has failed to gain traction with voters.
"History says a bad economy is bad for the incumbent," Ferguson said. "But the president's polling is still, people still trust him more on the economy than they trust Romney."
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