The Economy Today: The Summer Season

News from Spokane, Bangor, Gloucester and elsewhere

National news looks at the health of banks in anticipation of tomorrow’s stress test results: The New York Times says the government is asking Bank of America to raise $33.9 billion in capital to “withstand any worsening of the economic downturn.” The Washington Post runs a story about how the twelve-week wait for the stress tests has given banks a bit of a reprieve, and more time to make themselves stronger.

Jobs were another national headline, with the Times reporting that despite the 8.5 percent unemployment rate, “millions are still being hired”: while 4.8 million people were laid off or chose to leave their jobs in February, employers—like “hospitals, colleges, discount stores, restaurants and municipal public works departments”—hired 4.3 million people that month. But a story in USAToday looks carefully at the influx of older, more mature summer job applicants, and how it is making it more difficult for teenagers to get hired.

In Boston, minds are on the summer season as well. The Boston Globe reports that New England seacoast businesses are hopeful that despite the recession, business will be strong as people choose to vacation close to home.

According to the Gloucester Times, because a “bag-based, pay-as-you-throw trash system” is making garbage production expensive, residents have been recycling more in order to save money. In Fitchburg, the mayor wants to institute a trash fee to help prevent cuts in the police and fire departments, reports the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

In Maine, there’s talk of struggling mills. The Kennebec Journal reports that the city of Augusta “just bought itself some papermaking equipment, trucks, tools, and tissue paper - all for $100,” a bid for abandoned property inside a former tissue mill that had been repossessed by the city for failure to pay taxes. According to the Bangor Daily News, a Madawaska papermill is laying off 100 employees, and a pulp mill in Baileyville has ceased operation (and with it goes port and railway transport).

In Spokane, Washington, many public school teachers are distracted from teaching, the Spokesman-Review reports, because they’ve already been told they will probably be laid off. Meanwhile, echoing recent national headlines, the Tacoma News-Tribune writes that because of strong sales among low-cost homes, home prices are down 14.5 percent. And the Yakima Herald-Republic leads with a story about two beginning-farmer programs run by the state that are helping young farmers get started in agriculture with below-market interest rates and fee reductions.

And in North Charleston, detectives may soon be less snazzily dressed, according to The Post and Courier. The city council, looking to save taxpayer dollars, has cut the clothing allowance ranking officers have habitually received to “offset the cost of their work-related dress clothes.”

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Jane Kim is a writer in New York.