The Economy Today: Football Stays Strong

A roundup of national and regional economic headlines

The national papers devote most of their space to President Barack Obama’s press conference last night, where, as The Washington Post notes in an analysis piece, “Obama cast retooling the U.S. health-care system as crucial to the nation’s economic success.” But The Wall Street Journal also pulls out Obama’s statement at the press conference in support of a fee on risky transactions of the sort that exacerbated the financial crisis. “So if you guys want to do them, then you got to put something into the kitty to make sure that if you screw up, it’s not taxpayer dollars that have to pay for it,” the president said. “It’s dollars coming out of your profits.”

In a separate story (subscription-only), the Journal reports that the historic relationship between unemployment and economic growth has come uncoupled, with job losses during the recession outpacing what the decline in GDP would have predicted. The Post weighs in with a similar story on the coming “jobless recovery.”

Gallup, meanwhile, reports new poll results that only 14 percent of Americans believe the stimulus has improved their family’s financial situation, and only 28 percent believe it has strengthened the economy. (“No effect” was the most common answer to both questions. )

Elsewhere on the job front, the Tuscaloosa News relays word from an Alabama economics professor that while the rate of job losses is likely to slow in that state, unemployment probably won’t peak until 2010. And the Brattleboro Reformer reports that in New Hampshire, where overall unemployment is still below 7 percent, “Gov. John Lynch told his department heads Wednesday to make plans for the state to lay off 750 workers beginning in September.” A top union official characterized the statement as a threat designed to gain leverage in ongoing negotiations.

In more positive news, a South Florida TV station reports that a publishing and digital media company is coming to Lee County and bringing lots of jobs with it. (The county was one of the epicenters of the mortgage crisis; a Google search for “Lee County foreclosure” turns up 584,000 hits.) And out West, the Navajo Nation has formed a new “green energy” commission that advocates hope will create jobs and preserve traditional ways of life. (Forbes previously explored how the Navajo were trying to cope with the closure of a coal-fired power plant that was a major economic generator.)

Finally, The Sporting News finds one part of American life that’s apparently been untouched by the recession: the Southeastern Conference, home of some of the country’s top collegiate sports programs. “Over the next 15 years, every SEC football game will be broadcast by CBS or ESPN (or one of ESPN’s secondary stations),” writes Matthew Hayes. “Over the next 15 years, every SEC team will average $17 million a year—roughly a BCS Bowl payout—in television revenue.”

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.