Government numbers out this week provided no clear road map to the economic future.
Factory orders rose modestly in May, thanks to an increase in requests for non-durable goods. But the nation's unemployment rate shot to a nine-year high in June. And, spending on construction projects dropped in May by the largest amount in a year.
The economic outlook from farm country seems a little brighter. A survey of business leaders and manufacturers in the Midwest shows optimism over the rural economy running at a two-year high.
Even so, a different report issued from north of the border could cast a more troubling shadow over Rural America.
In the report, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency raised the possibility the disease arrived in Canada in a 1998 shipment of pregnant U.S. cows. The 25-thousand animals were born before a ban on feeding animal protein and other ruminants was imposed.
USDA officials have been reviewing the Canadian report for several weeks and point to an established surveillance program for BSE which they claim exceeds international standards. According to USDA, there's no reason to believe that any cattle exported by the U.S. were infected.
Canadian investigators admit proving the BSE connection will be difficult because the Canadian Cattle Identification Program was established after the animals arrived.