Chamber economist: Job growth too small to get economy back on track

"We have to grow about 240,000 jobs a month in order to get back in five years," he said. "And we're not anywhere near that."

Regalia said the economy in the first half of the year created, on average, between 90,000 and 95,000 jobs per month. Those figures are far below the number needed to re-employ workers who have been laid off and still accommodate new entrants into the marketplace.

"Every month that you go 95 when you're supposed to go 240 means that you've got to make up that shortfall and grow even faster in the out years," he said.

The Labor Department reported jobless claims dropped last week to 472,000 from 478,000. But lackluster demand has many expecting dismal jobs figures for the month of August.

Earlier Thursday, Gallup predicted the unemployment rate for August will increase, from 9.5 percent to possibly 9.8 percent. Some economists are expecting the market to have lost 100,000 jobs, the third straight month of declines.