The Economy Today

Headlines from around the country

Here’s a quick survey of economic news from around the country:

The San Diego Union Tribune offers three indicators that the dust still hasn’t settled from California’s burst housing bubble. Rental apartment rents are falling due partially to an increase in vacant units, meanwhile existing home sales are dropping. There’s also been an record increase in San Diego County home owners defaulting on their mortgage payments.

North Carolina’s News & Observer awaits job data for the so-called Research Triangle area, which included Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. In addition to several prominent universities that are cutting jobs, or enacting hiring freezes, the locale is affected by cut jobs at a Caterpillar plant. Shrinking charitable support for the North Carolina Symphony has forced the group to cancel a European tour, trim its events, and appeal to audiences for donations. But, in brighter news, a local business, Performance Bicycle has expanded due to an increased interest in cycling.

Housing is also the topic of the day in Texas. The Dallas Morning News has a neat multimedia tool to help readers understand housing prices. It’s a map that combines various real-estate stats, like median price, days on the market, and price per square foot, broken down by county. The data from that piece is also anchored by an explanatory piece about falling home prices in the year’s first quarter. Data and context, together. Well done.

In Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution reports that the jobless rate has dropped in the metropolitan area, but by a tiny margin, down from 9.2 to 9.1 percent. Still, the state labor commissioner says it’s a “welcome respite.” With property values falling around the country, Georgia’s Dekalb County plans to reassess home to establish tax rates for 2009. But the big story in Atlanta has nothing to do with taxes. A lightning and hail storm swept through the city, sparking fires, damaging roads, taking out the air control tower at the airport, and damaging powerlines.

In another part of Georgia, things are much rosier. Savannah’s unemployment rate has dropped to 7.5 percent, because the city gets money from a variety of sources: the ports, tourism, manufacturing and the military, and a new shipyard operation is launched in a long-dormant spot on the waterfront.

In the rainy city, the news is tech and housing. Seattle Times reports this morning that Microsoft’s third quarter earnings weren’t as bad as some feared, a reminder that Seattle’s relationship to tech is very similar to Detroit’s relationship with the auto industry. But there’s also plenty of bad news. The city’s proposed budget will cut moneys for schools and health care, affecting the young, the old, and the poor. On the other side of the coin, Seattle’s flush youngsters are more reluctant to buy pricey real estate, with closings down in fancy high-rises.

Housing news is also bad in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Sun says record defaults are driving down home prices. The apartment market is also deteriorating.

Finally, in Florida, The Miami Herald reports that spring break 2009 didn’t help Florida’s suffering tourist industry with room rates down, and revelers staying home. Totally bogus, dude.

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.