A look at the jobs

In this issue, we share what roofing contractors expect from the economy in 2004, as well as how the construction sector should perform (see "Is it time to loosen your belt?"). Overall, things are looking better—the economy is slowly picking up, and construction starts continue to rise.

But there is one aspect of the economy that continues to trouble economists because it likely will affect how quickly the economy completely rebounds. Job creation is thumbing its nose at everyone else's hopes for a better year.

According to BusinessWeek magazine, the economy gained 57,000 jobs in September but lost jobs in the third quarter overall.

BusinessWeek's report states: "The third quarter was a spectacular anomaly—the only time in at least 40 years in which the economy actually shed jobs while growing at a rate of 5.5 percent or better. In September, 9 million people were jobless. Nearly a quarter had been out of work for at least half a year."