The state of the American economy. Plus: Pre-k costs, CalPERS and unemployment benefits

November 13, 2008 | Alex Stone

Jobless claims surge while trade deficit narrows: Applications for unemployment benefits soared to the highest level since just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks while the trade deficit shrank more than expected as demand for imports plunged, further evidence of the struggling U.S. economy.

Americans’ ‘epic shopping spree is over’: Americans have slammed their wallets shut since the financial meltdown, and the future is looking downright scary for stores across the country and the whole U.S. economy. On Wednesday, Best Buy Co. slashed its earnings forecast and said the changes in consumer behavior have been nothing less than “seismic,” creating “the most difficult climate” the company had seen in its 42-year history.

Unemployment benefits must be extended: Chances are you know someone who has lost a job recently. Or you know somebody who knows somebody who has become unemployed through no fault of their own.

Report: Middle Class in Credit Crunch Squeezed by Pre-K Costs: High quality pre-kindergarten has become something of an elusive luxury for middle class parents, caught between rising prices, the housing crisis and stagnating wages, according to report released by Pre-K Now during a Hechinger Institute Webinar on Wednesday. The report provides a great starting point for rich and worthwhile stories journalists should be telling about the hard choices middle class American families are making as they struggle to pay mortgages and credit card debt and worry about holding onto their jobs.

CalPERS’ housing portfolio loses 35% in a year: The country’s largest public pension fund suffers a paper loss of $3.3 billion for the year ended June 30. An analysis says the loss was amplified by loans taken to ramp up the investments. The value of residential real estate investments owned by the country’s largest public pension fund has plummeted 35% — a paper loss of $3.3 billion for current workers, retirees and their state and local government employers.

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Posted in Early Learning, Education, State Economy, Tax and Budget, Work & Family

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