The Economy Today: Gold Coins and Gardening Seeds

News from California, Minnesota, Ohio and elsewhere

In national headlines, The Washington Post runs a big story on the cost of being poor, writing, “The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace,” and calling it a “fact of life that reality television and magazines don’t often explain.” (The story compares daily activities of the rich vs. the poor: groceries, laundry, banking, etc.) The New York Times, taking a different tack, goes with a story about how high-end personal finance magazines are coping with the recession. USA Today, meanwhile, reports that the recession is forcing some local law agencies to close down precincts, merge, or shut down completely.

In California, the state’s budget woes are front and center, as voters (likely a smaller percentage than usual) go to the polls Tuesday to vote on the six ballot measures that Gov. Schwarzenegger has said must pass in order to help mend the state’s huge budget gap. The San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, takes a look at Schwarzenegger’s “uber-salesmanship,” and the Sacramento Bee reports on state workers’ outrage at the possibility of 5,000 layoffs within their ranks.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press cites a new report showing that health care is becoming increasingly expensive in Minnesota, with the number of people who spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax income on health care increasing by 89 percent between 2000 and 2009.

In Illinois, the State Journal-Register reports on how a Medicaid hotline is saving patients’ time and the state’s money: it helps people avoid emergency-room visits and better manage their chronic diseases, and has helped the state, which is struggling with rising health care costs, save $104 million this past year.

The Indianapolis Star runs an editorial on job creation in the life-sciences field (at pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical-device companies, among others) and praises public-private partnerships for breathing life into the state’s economy.

Ohio’s stimulus funds ($8 billion) have yet to be translated into construction and new jobs, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, in large part because of the government-mandated bidding process. The Columbus Dispatch reports that county governments are dealing with a record number of property tax appeals, with property owners arguing that their homes or businesses are no longer worth the amount used to calculate their taxes.

And finally: sales of chocolate, running shoes, gold coins, gardening seeds, and tanning products are up, according to the Associated Press, with consumers postponing bigger purchases but shelling out for smaller indulgences. Sales of stomach remedy tablets, including Pepto-Bismol, however, have also increased.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Jane Kim is a writer in New York.