New reports underscore weakness of American economy

On Wednesday the Institute of Supply Management reported that manufcaturing activity in the US fell for the third straight month, which surprised some analysts who were anticipating a flat report. The economic report was just one sign of an unstable recovery.

Food Stamps
According to the Agriculture Department, food stamp usage has now reached a record level in the US. In June, nearly 47 million Americans needed food assistance, which marked an increase of 0.4 percent from May and 3.3 percent higher than a year earlier. The report also noted that 85.1 percent of Americans were “food insecure” at some point in 2011.

American Competitiveness
Reliance on government assistance was just one indicator of a still-struggling American economy. A survey released by the World Economic Forum reported that the US fell from 5th to 7th place on the global competitiveness scale.

“A number of weaknesses are chipping away at its competitiveness…the U.S. fiscal imbalances and continued political deadlock over resolving these challenges,” said Jennifer Blanke, Economist at the Geneva-based WEF, told CNBC.

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