'What We Earn' needs your input
Every year, Parade magazine reports on people's salaries around the country. This year's "What We Earn" report is in a Parade magazine that will appear next month in The Bee. To supplement this report, The Bee is looking for area residents who would be willing to share their name, age, occupation, annual income and comments about wages in the Central Valley. If you would like to participate, call 578-2336 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that manufacturing contracted for a second-consecutive month in March as manufacturers grappled with weakening order books and rising prices for raw materials. The institute's manufacturing index registered 48.6 last month, a bit stronger than the 48.3 reading for February, which was the weakest in five years. Readings below 50 indicate contraction, and those above 50 show growth. In Washington, the Commerce Department said construction spending fell again in February as home building tumbled for a record 24th-straight month.
Auto sales skid
U.S. auto sales dropped by double digits in March, even for usual stalwarts like Toyota. And with fragile consumer confidence, falling home values, tightening credit and high energy prices, it may be some time before auto sales recover. General Motors and Chrysler reported a 19 percent drop in U.S. sales on Tuesday. Ford's sales fell 14 percent, and Toyota was down 10 percent compared with last March. Nissan fell 4 percent, and Honda reported a 3 percent drop.
Crisis felt abroad
Two of Europe's largest banks, UBS and Deutsche Bank, disclosed Tuesday that they are writing down billions more in bad investments, reflecting the unrelenting wave of woe from the U.S. subprime crisis. Banks and analysts agreed that threats to the industry persist, predicting extensive job losses over the next year and a half and larger global banking losses from the deterioration of the U.S. housing market.
When it comes to electronic gadgets, the pursuit of absolute thinness is not only acceptable, it's celebrated.