How Healthy Is The Economy Where You Live?

Jeff Chiu

"The economy in RI is not good ... we pay high taxes, high state income tax, higher utility and gas prices, have crooked politicians stealing from us left and right and no end in sight!!" -- Margaret H., Rhode Island

"Not very. Our city has not kept up with trends, thus many are seeking jobs which no longer exist. The machine tool industry is something from the past. Nursing schools can't handle the students necessary to fill the job openings which do exist so the students go elsewhere to learn and to work. Our real estate market is sluggish, but people from the outer edges of Chicago think the cheaper prices are great so we sell some homes to them - often in foreclosure. However, when they see the high real estate taxes - mainly for schools - then the low achievement levels in those schools it's a Catch-22 for them. Our small family business is under the heading of "manufacturing" and we must go far and wide for new customers, and to maintain the seasoned ones. We must cut back on costs for benefits, among other things, just to try keeping our heads up. Our underdeveloped public transportation system doesn't allow for people working out in the 'burbs where they've paved the cornfields rather than refurbish the former downtown area or use any older buildings, so the high gas prices are a real burden for shoppers and workers alike. Our three hospitals, which compete with each other for the best and newest equipment, appear to be our biggest employer. After recently spending a weekend as a patient in one of them, I'd say they leave a lot to be desired. With advance notice I'd go out of town next time. Just another method of sending dollars elsewhere. Even our wonderful money-making Operation Iraqi Freedom doesn't bring much of the green stuff here!" -- Judy B., Northern Illinois

"Weak and getting weaker....Complicating the picture is the fact that southwest Florida is just now recovering from the hurricane season of 2004, but is now being saddled with high tax increases and astronomical insurance premiums. The cost of everything is up as a result."-- Deanie G., Florida

"Things here in Southern CA are strong. There are opportunities everywhere if you are willing to work hard and make things happen. Even with the housing market softening (correcting itself from last year)." -- Jeff W., California

"Here in Central Florida, everyone is hurting. The "ghetto" areas are costing upwards of $800-$1200 a month, but wages aren't increasing, and most people are working two jobs to keep their family's housed in one of these areas (less jobs to go around). What's worse, legal immigrants (yes, the legal ones) are taking many of the welfare benefits, and not paying any taxes into the system?! If they were full citizens it wouldn't be such a problem because they could pay taxes into the system, but now citizen family's that need these benefits are being turned away from having these benefits. Crime is a growing problem, drug use is increasing, and the police force isn't trusted by anyone. The cost of everyday items are increasing, but most people shop at the local convenience stores were prices are inflated just because it's close to home, so their options of getting good prices are very limited. At the business I work at, the number of people coming in is the same as last year, but business is down quite a bit because people can't afford to buy as much as last year. Now they are talking about not giving us raises, because they are blaming us for the lack of sales! This is unfair treatment..." -- Michael R., Florida

"Not good in the Greater Boston area. Taxes are out of control and the real estate taxes keep going up. A lot of people are trying to bail out but are unable to sell their property. Many of the people are trying to hold out but if they want to leave they may have to take a loss on their property." -- Jim L., Charlestown, MA

"Do I take food and energy costs out of the equation before I answer? What about the cost of taking the family to the movies? How many items that directly impact my budget and real quality of life can I remove and still produce data that is relevant to anyone other than a Wall Street analyst? The white elephant in the room is that everyone knows that the real income of wage earning middle class Americans has been eroded by globalization. As we export the American standard of living (read jobs) to China, India, Malaysia and every other cheap labor emerging market, how can we still marvel at record corporate profit coupled with negative wage growth in the US labor market as if we are unaware of the true costs? The US Consumer may be the goose that lays the golden egg for international free market capitalism, but without good paying jobs for the young people that will support the baby boom generation's retirement in the next decade, then our collective goose may well be cooked while we are enjoying the smell and setting the table for the last supper. Happy Easter." -- Aton A., New Jersey

"The economy in the Houston area is doing great. There are plenty of good paying jobs for those with marketable skills and construction continues unabated. Two new high rise buildings were just announced for downtown Houston and several other large projects are already underway in the downtown area. In this economy there is simply no excuse for being unsuccessful if you have half a brain and are willing to exert a little effort." -- Richard O., Texas

"The mayor brags there's an economic boom on the radio. Well the reality is the retail market of Vicksburg MS is real weak. For one thing over a several year period retail stores at Pemberton Mall and Plaza have closed from one economic reason or another. The outlet mall has lost some tenants. Super Wal-Mart has been doing strong. But locals have been going to Jackson MS and Monroe LA where the more high end stores are. The local bluebloods are only interested money not progress as they preach it. Since the Cinema closed the movie market has been going to Jackson and Monroe to see films. Outlook here has been bleak. Casinos to provide a strong economic but with the cost of high property realty costs. Even the houses here haven't sold that well the either." -- Chuck H., Vicksburg MS