WASHINGTON - The global economy's foundations are weakening, one by one.
Already hobbled by Europe's debt crisis, the world now risks being hurt by slowdowns in its economic powerhouses.
The U.S. economy, the world's largest, had a third straight month of feeble job growth in May. High-flying economies in China, India and Brazil are slowing, too.
An investor looks at the stock price monitor at a private securities company in Shanghai, China, Friday. Already hobbled by Europe’s debt crisis, the world now risks being hurt by slowdowns in its economic powerhouses.
Fears of a global economic downturn have sent investors rushing toward the safest possible investments: U.S. and German government bonds. As a result, the interest rate on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note has hit a record-low 1.46 percent. The rate on the German 10-year bond is even lower: 1.17 percent.
"Treasurys are at 1.46 because people are freaking out," says Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Economics.
The gravest fear is Europe. The most urgent threat is that in mid-June, Greek voters will reject the terms of a $170 billion bailout - which called for painful budget cuts - and abandon the euro. The move could ignite economic and financial chaos as Greek debts shift from denominations in euros to Greek drachmas of uncertain value.
Yet the global economy's troubles go well beyond Greece. Here's a look at the global economy's vital signs:
American employers added just 69,000 jobs in May. Since averaging a healthy 252,000 a month from December through February, job growth has slowed to a lackluster average of 96,000 a month.
On Friday, after the government issued the May jobs report, the Dow Jones industrial average sank 275 points. It was the Dow's biggest loss since November, and it's now down 0.8 percent for the year.
The dismal news suggested that the U.S. economy is enduring a midyear slump just as in 2010 and 2011.
Unemployment rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in May as 642,000 more Americans poured into the work force, and only 422,000 more people got jobs. Recent unemployment figures also appeared to improve because they stopped counting those unemployed people who finally just gave up looking for work.
The jobs report came out a day after the government said the U.S. economy grew at just a 1.9 percent annual rate in the first three months of 2012. That's a meager pace nearly three years after the recession officially ended in June 2009. And it's too slow to generate many jobs or to lower the unemployment rate. In good economic times, the rate would be below 6 percent.
Many U.S. companies are finding it more efficient to invest in machinery, not people.
"We're not hiring, and we're not replacing" workers who leave, says Joe Glenn, who runs Glenn Metalcraft in Princeton, Minn.
Given the size of the U.S. economy, further weaknesses could worsen the slowdowns in European and Asian countries that depend on sales to U.S. consumers.
Unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro is already at 11 percent, the European Union's Eurostat office reported Friday. It's the highest rate since the euro was introduced in 1999.
European countries have been struggling with their debt crisis for three years. Three nations - Greece, Ireland and Portugal - have already required bailouts because of unsustainable levels of debt.
Austerity has been the main prescription for the crisis. But spending cuts and tax hikes are causing economies to shrink across the eurozone.
In a blunt warning, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi last week called the existing setup of the euro single currency "unsustainable" without stronger political and financial ties among eurozone countries.
The fear is that Greece will drop the euro, and other weak countries, such as Spain and Portugal, will be forced to follow. Financial chaos could rage across Europe.
Spain is facing punishing borrowing costs on bond markets because investors fear it won't be able to pay its debts. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared Saturday that his government will stick with harsh austerity measures as long as necessary.
But Spain's unemployment is already 24.4 percent. For those under age 25, unemployment is 51.5 percent. Businesses are being crushed.
Since the global recession ended in 2009, the world economy has been fueled by rising powers in the developing world led by China, India and Brazil.
Now, all three are running into trouble.
China's manufacturing weakened in May, according to surveys out Friday. Factory output was the weakest in three months.
Some economists say China's economic growth will fall to an 8 percent rate in the April-June quarter. That's high by Western standards, but it would be the weakest growth for China in nearly three years.
India is suffering an even sharper slowdown. Its economic growth slowed to a 5.3 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, the lowest in nine years. Output from India's factories has declined. Its consumers have seen inflation - which has averaged 9.2 percent a year since the start of 2010 - devour their wages.
In Brazil, the economy practically stalled in the first quarter of the 2012. It grew at just a 0.2 percent annual rate from the final three months of 2011, the government said Friday. That was below expectations of 0.5 percent growth. Flooding punished farmers.
But Brazilian officials pointed to another culprit, one that shows how problems in one part of the world cause problems in another: The trouble in Europe is taking a toll on exports.