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Is It The Economy, Stupid?

Aug 26, 2008
According to a poll co-conducted by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 50% of workers in this economy go to work sick. This is attributed to not having paid sick leave and employer pressure to be on the job. Although federal legislation has been proposed, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are already requiring more employers to provide paid sick leave. On the other side of the inflated coin, the California Chamber of Commerce believes competition for good workers is enough to cause more employers to voluntarily offer paid sick leave. They might - when workers voluntarily get sick.

Unfortunately, there's nothing voluntary about paying more for gas; and it's changing the way we live. SUV sales are down and motor scooter sales are up. Business at Sears, Staples and Wal-Mart stores is down; but their online business is up. Schools in 11 states have gone to 4-day weeks, Google has added walking directions to its maps and traffic fatalities are down. If our gas tanks are half empty, maybe we should look at the gas-related changes in our lives as half full.

Because of the economy, keeping our stomachs half full is more expensive. A survey done by the Food Market Institute found that 60% of shoppers are buying store brands to save money. Because the price of dairy, meat and bread have risen fastest, stores are expanding their signature brands into these areas, as well as into areas of increased customer interest, like organics and natural foods. Depending on the economy and customer preference, there's no telling what will be in store for the future.

Increasing scrap metal sales may be something that's in store for the future. In the past six months scrap metal sales have doubled. Because of the demand for metal in developing countries, aluminum has gone from 30 cents a pound to 80 cents. Copper has gone from $1 a pound to $3 and steel has gone from $40 a ton to $200. Although most scrap metal sellers are plumbers, electricians and construction workers, average people are selling everything from aluminum window frames to children's chain swings. Because of the increased value of metal, Delaware became the first state to pass a bill requiring a waiting period before scrap metal dealers can sell what they buy. This is to help police take the steal out of scrap metal selling.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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