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U.S. Income Drops for First Time in Years

The nation’s income dropped in August 2011, for the first time in nearly two years, according to a government report released last week. The drop was precipitated by a weak labor market and falling consumer confidence.

According to Reuters, “Weak incomes as employment growth ground to a halt and earnings fell hurt spending in August. Income slipped 0.1 percent, the first decline since October 2009, with private wages and salaries dropping $12.2 billion. Economists had expected income to edge up 0.1 percent. Consumer spending growth slowed sharply to a 0.7 percent annual pace in the second quarter after advancing 2.1 percent in the first three months of the year. Last month real spending on goods fell 0.2 percent, while services ticked up 0.1 percent. Disposable income was unchanged for the first time since September, but when adjusted for inflation fell 0.3 percent, the largest drop since October 2009.”

An Unhealthy New Trend in Health Care Costs

If it seems like it’s been a while since we’ve talked about the rising cost of health care, that’s because up until this year, these mounting medical costs had leveled.

But in the new America, it seems you can’t keep a high cost down.

In reality, the costs of employer-sponsored health insurance surged during 2011, cutting short a timely trend toward only “moderate growth.” According to a report released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, annual premiums for family coverage climbed 9 percent and surpassed $15,000 for the first time. Premiums for single coverage rose 8 percent compared to 2010.

A Depressed Job Market Yields Depressed Jobless Americans

When home prices plunged, the stock market crashed, and nationwide hiring froze, many desperate debtors were left destitute, depressed and feeling without hope—all at the height of our recent Great Recession. But fast forward to nearly three years since the recession officially ended, and today many of the most mentally hard-hit Americas are those facing long-term unemployment.

According to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, about 9 percent of Americans were defined as clinically depressed in data released last year by the compared to an estimated 6.6 percent in data collected in 2001 and 2002. In the process, many of these depressed men and women have also seen their home foreclosed, vehicles repossessed, relationships fail, and addictive behaviors prevail.

Card Company Offers More Cards Than There Are Customers to Use Them

Need signs that credit card companies are getting more aggressive with their credit card tactics and tricks? Well, there’s 346 million reasons from one particular credit card purveyor, Citigroup.

Based on a new report from The Wall Street Journal, in the third quarter alone, the bank mailed more than 346 million credit card offers to unwitting customers. Keep in mind, that’s more than the approximately 308 million people in the U.S, according to the Census Bureau.

Despite this high volume of consumer credit offers, according to the financial experts at Bloomberg, revolving credit usage, which includes credit cards, dropped the most in six months in July. This means that many of you may be watching the budget-busting bait, but reluctant to take it.

Bank of America Layoffs and You

Last week, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America said it would cut more than 35,000 jobs and reduce annual expenses by $5 billion, as it struggles with costs from its 2008 takeover of Countrywide Financial Corp and a nearly 50 percent drop in share price this year.

The layoffs could have huge ripple effects for the North Carolina economy.

Already dealing with double-digit unemployment in July 2011 (10.1 percent) due to over 100,000 state government layoffs, the state’s impending loss of additional jobs for thousands in the languishing local private financial industry could mean the slow-to-recover North Carolina economy could get much worse before it gets better.

Looking at Foreclosures in All the Wrong Places

Foreclosures? Theeeey’re Baaaaack.

After several months of falling default rates, foreclosures were up again in August 2011, rising by about 7 percent compared to the month before. In fact, according to new numbers from the real estate firm RealtyTrac, some of the biggest increases were in the nation's wealthier places: suburbs, industrial hubs, as well as small town service worker centers, already hard-hit by the great recession.

Recent Grads See Starting Salaries Decline

For many recent graduates from colleges and universities all across the country, any job must feel better than no job at all. Shortly after graduation in May 2011, thousands of grads from Washington State to UNC-Wilmington, turned their back on student life and turned back on their computers only to begin their first official job searches—sending out e-mail-loads of resumes in what would become for many a months-long search for work….any work.

Once the summer had started in earnest many of this newly-minted workforce found that they had applied for dozens, if not hundreds of positions, only to hear back from a handful of potential employers, most of whom would likely reject them about as quickly as these same students were running through their bank accounts, savings, leftover student loans or whatever their parents could provide, during only the very beginnings of what would become an entire season of just job searching.

Is Unemployment Your Primary Concern?

President Barack Obama, who submitted his American Jobs Act to Congress earlier this week—including bills that aim to use a combination of spending and tax cuts to spur job growth—seems to be on the pulse of a larger political issue.

Though the unemployment rate has been high for months, it’s never been more clear that joblessness is the primary concern for nearly a majority of average American voters.

Foreclosure Fears Up in August

The big news recently seems to be rising unemployment, with jobs coming back into focus as yet another election season begins to heat up. But a recent jump in another bad economic bellwether—home foreclosures—is a new cause for concern in these uncertain economic times.

According to a latest reports, the number of mortgage-default notices filed by banks climbed 33 percent between July and August -- the biggest single-month increase in four years, according to the data provider RealtyTrac.


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