Surprise! Job, Housing Markets Still Weak

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Job growth and a rebound in the housing market will save the U.S. economy. Just not quite yet, according to four tepid economic reports released Wednesday.

Automatic Data Processing's ( ADP) latest employment report showed that the private sector added 91,000 jobs in August, below forecasts for an increase of 100,000. July's figure was revised to 109,000 jobs added, down from the initially reported job growth of 114,000.

Joel Prakken, Chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, said the ADP employment report "suggests that the trend in employment moderated somewhat in August at a pace below what would be consistent with a stable unemployment rate."

Meanwhile, outplacement services firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said that U.S. employers announced plans to cut more than 51,000 workers from payrolls in August. While that figure was down 23% from a 16-month high of 66,414 in July, it is still 47% higher from last August, when employers announced only 34,768 job cuts.

In other job growth news, investment research firm TrimTabs estimates the economy added an anemic 64,000 jobs in August, down 60% from TrimTabs' July estimate of 161,000.

"The steady decline in government stimulus is bringing to light an underlying weak economy incapable of generating enough jobs to reduce unemployment," says Madeline Schnapp, director of macroeconomic research at TrimTabs. "Worse still, it appears that the slowdown is accelerating, increasing the risk of recession."

On the housing front, the Mortgage Bankers Association said its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, fell a seasonally adjusted 9.6% last week, as refinancing applications slid 12.2% from the prior week. Purchasing applications, meanwhile, inched up 0.9% compared with the previous week, the survey showed. This came as the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fell to 4.32% last week from 4.39% the previous week, the MBA said.

Despite the jobs and housing data, the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index for August fell only to 56.5 from 58.8 in July. Still, economists had expected 53.3. A level of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston.

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