A Home Depot sign from a store in Los Angeles, Calif.
A Home Depot sign from a store in Los Angeles, Calif. - 
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Bob Moon: The world's biggest home-improvement retailer reports second-quarter earnings today. Home Depot's announcement is bound to include a lower forecast for the year. Just yesterday, its rival Lowes reported lower profits, though not as much as some analysts were expecting. That was apparently thanks to a boost from tax-rebate spending.

Home Depot has been trying to build momentum for when the housing slump finally turns around. But with most of the government's stimulus checks now spent, what's building now is frustration. Marketplace's Renita Jablonski reports.

Renita Jablonski: This spring, Home Depot cut 1,300 jobs -- mostly back office work -- and closed more than a dozen stores.

Around the same time, Don Martin was telling a couple carpenters he couldn't hire them for the summer. Martin owns a small general contracting company in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Don Martin: We visit Home Depot quite a bit less than we used to.

Martin says right now, homeowners aren't making improvements beyond what's necessary.

Martin: The scope of our projects have gotten reduced by quite a bit, so the amount of different materials that are required are quite a bit less.

Paul Nolte at Hinsdale Associates says that's why Home Depot is taking the long view. He says the retailer will continue to make changes, like putting more employees on the sales floor.

Paul Nolte: When the economy turns around and when home building turns around, they're going to be in a much better position to take advantage of the economy and of the upturn.

Nolte says that won't be sooner than the beginning of next year.

I'm Renita Jablonski for Marketplace.