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Construction industry vital to economic recovery

Construction workers attach a barrier to the exterior of an apartment building under construction in Centreville, Va.

Adriene Hill: Jobs reports continue to be cruddy, but in spite of one disappointing employment report after another, the markets kept going up and up until late July. Today's further swoon has us wondering if the markets are finally catching on.

For more, we go to Juli Niemann, an analyst at Smith, Moore and Company in St. Louis. She joins us every Tuesday. Good morning Julie.

Juli Niemann: Good morning, Adriene.

Hill: So are the markets finally coming to terms with where the economy actually is?

Niemann: Well Wall Street's ever hopeful, but the biggest problem they're facing right now is this is not a double dip recession, because we've never emerged from one that really started in 2008. One powerful area made us look much better than we were, and that was manufacturing -- machinery, autos, aircraft. And it all went to the export markets, and our trading partners now are all plunging back into recession, so no one will be able to buy our stuff. That's what we're really looking at now. We're tied to Europe and China's helm, and they both have a unique set of problems dragging them back down.

Hill: So some of the jobs proposals we're hearing, there are suggestions out there that basically count on and encourage consumer spending. Are those going work?

Niemann: Absolutely not. Bottom line is -- the Federal Reserve has a couple of dark tools they don't really want to use. But the only thing that's going to work at this point in time is basically jobs tied to manufacturing and infrastructure. Thirty-five thousand jobs are created for about every billion dollars spent on transportation -- that's very effective. You've got a multiplier effect of 2 to 1. So in the president's jobs talk, he really has to talk about long-term competitive disadvantage that we're having if we don't upgrade our ports, and highways, and bridges. The construction trade is really the only thing that's going to bring this out. The problem with that: it's longer-term. There's no short-term fix for the mess that we're in.

Hill: Juli Niemann is an analyst at Smith, Moore and Company in St. Louis. Thanks so much.

Niemann: You bet.

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