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Mixed Signals

Keep your business alive in an unpredictable economy.

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This story appears in the September 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Words like variable and mixed are usually used to describe the weather. These days, they can also be used to describe the U.S. economy.

While the economy keeps growing overall, the combination of rising gas prices, a static job market and a potential housing bubble has left the U.S. consumer somewhat pessimistic. Consumer confidence fell for the fifth straight month in May--the longest consecutive decline since 2002. The Conference Board's "Consumer Confidence Index," a monthly survey of 5,000 U.S. households, tumbled 6.3 points between March and April alone. While the most recent figures from the survey indicate that consumer confidence may be on the rise--the index rose more than 2 points between May and June--entrepreneurs aren't out of the woods yet.

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