Global Economy At Risk As US, Europe And Asia Slow
His sales jumped 40 percent last year. Yet Glenn's shop has kept employment flat at about 35 workers. He's added more computer-controlled metalworking machines and robots to load the raw material into them.
"We're producing as much as we were with a lot less manpower," Glenn says. "And I don't foresee that those jobs are going to come back."
Other companies are reluctant to hire until they feel more confident that their customer demand will keep growing. Adding to their uncertainty are Europe's troubles and America's dysfunctional politics.
For now, some key sectors of the U.S. economy remain positive. Americans are buying more homes, suggesting that the housing market is on the mend. U.S. builders have increased their spending on home and commercial construction.
Auto sales just posted their best May since 2008. Manufacturing activity continues to grow, and so does consumer spending, which drives about 70 percent of the economy.
Borrowing rates for consumers and businesses have never been lower. Tame inflation has given the Federal Reserve leeway to keep interest rates low. And gasoline prices have been sinking. The national average is now $3.61, and experts predict further drops in coming weeks.
Still, unless Congress and the White House reach an agreement by year's end, federal taxes will jump and deep spending cuts will kick in. Should that happen, the Congressional Budget Office says, the economy would likely fall into another recession.
Given the size of the U.S. economy, further weaknesses could worsen the slowdowns in European and Asian countries that depend on sales to American consumers.
Unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro is already at 11 percent, the European Union's Eurostat office reported Friday. It's the highest rate since the euro was introduced in 1999.
European countries have been struggling with their debt crisis for three years. Three nations â Greece, Ireland and Portugal â have already required bailouts because of unsustainable levels of debt.
Austerity has been the main prescription for the crisis. But spending cuts and tax hikes are causing economies to shrink across the eurozone.
In a blunt warning, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi last week called the existing setup of the euro single currency "unsustainable" without stronger political and financial ties among eurozone countries.
The fear is that Greece will drop the euro, and other weak countries, such as Spain and Portugal, will be forced to follow. Financial chaos could rage across Europe.