Investors seeking reason for optimism after the worst stock-market sell-off since the 2008 financial crisis probably won't find it in Friday's July jobs report.
Economists forecast that employers added only 90,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.2 percent, according to a survey by FactSet.
That would mark an improvement over the 18,000 net jobs created in June - the fewest in nine months - and the 25,000 in May. But over time, 90,000 new jobs a month wouldn't even be enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising. Nor would it erase fears on Wall Street that the U.S. may be on the verge of another recession.
At least 125,000 jobs a month are needed to keep up with population growth. Twice as many are generally associated with significant declines in the unemployment rate, which has risen for three straight months.
Economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimate there is a 35 percent chance of another recession within the next year.