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Economic Preview: Spotty economy puts more weight on consumers to carry the load

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Retailers are planning to hire early for the holidays because of trouble finding good help.

American consumers have been doing most of the heavy lifting for the economy this year, but the load is getting heavier to carry.

A slew of evidence suggests that key segments of the economy such as energy and manufacturing are still struggling and that even some of the strongest sectors of growth have taken a step back. One of them is retail. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect retail sales to be flat in August.

Weaker retail spending would follow on the heels of reports showing slower hiring and auto sales and a more pessimistic outlook among business executives, according to a pair of closely followed surveys.

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