The Economy Today: Who Will Lead?

Headlines from Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and elsewhere

The government has extended a massive economic safety net to Americans, USA Today reports this morning. Benefits like Social Security, unemployment insurance, and food stamps have grown to represent “one of every six dollars of Americans’ income.” Many nations, not just the U.S., are overextended financially, The New York Times reports. Debt payments on borrowed money may “sap world growth.” But this dark reality doesn’t filter into this silver-lining story from the Los Angeles Times about the phenomenon of “funemployment” among young workers who’ve lost or quit their jobs: “Buoyed by severance, savings, unemployment checks or their parents,” they travel, volunteer, and go to the beach, instead of looking for jobs.

Some regional news are consistent with these national headlines. In Colorado, avid golfers are still golfing. And a Moody’s report has sparked a debate among states about which one will lead us out of the recession. Idaho and Oregon are vying for top honors.

Workers looking for job training opportunities may get some help from the Houston Community College, The Houston Chronicle reports. Growing fields including “property management, early childhood development, heating and air conditioning installation and repair, teaching and medical billing” will be covered at HCC. Financial aid is offered as well.

Child poverty rates are rising in Cape Cod, according to the Cape Cod Times. A conference gathered by the Jewish Federation of Cape Cod will convene a variety of experts tomorrow to discuss the pressures on the area’s children. One indicator is that the free or reduced-cost lunch program for school children witnessed an increase of almost 10 percent. Childhood poverty can leave “a lasting mark on children that could shape the rest of their lives,” experts say.

Some Colorado golfers aren’t letting the recession spoil their favorite pastime, The Coloradoan reports. Retirees haven’t put away their clubs, and one golf-course owner says he hasn’t seen a downturn, and that sales are as strong as ever. Still, he thinks customers might buy less new gear during the recession. One club in Fort Collins offered a “grant” program to defer membership fees “until the Dow reaches 12,000 points.”

A new Moody’s study has suggested that Oregon may be among the states leading the charge out of the recession. The Oregonian follows up on this finding, pointing to a burgeoning in-state tech industry as a positive indicator. But the report also warns that Oregon’s “expanding labor force could continue driving high unemployment rates.”

The Idaho Statesman also expands on the Moody’s report that pointed to Idaho as a strong contender because of the state’s low business costs and tech-savvy young workforce. But Moody’s also warns that the outlook for this year is “relatively bleak.”

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.