Dollars & Sense

'What People Earn' needs your input

Every year, Parade magazine reports on people's salaries around the country. This year's "What People Earn" report will appear in the April 13 issue of Parade magazine. 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

Gas prices extend their rise at pump

Gasoline prices extended their record run at the pump Thursday, but took a breather in futures trading as investors collected profits from the previous session's huge advance. Crude oil futures fell as the dollar stabilized and prompted selling by investors who had bought crude as an inflation hedge. At the pump, the national average price of a gallon of gas rose 0.2 cents overnight to $3.289 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Corn prices jump to $6 per bushel

Corn prices jumped to a record $6 a bushel Thursday, driven by an expected supply shortfall that will add to Americans' growing grocery bill and further squeeze struggling ethanol producers. Corn prices have shot up nearly 30 percent this year amid dwindling stockpiles and surging demand for the grain used to feed livestock and make alternative fuels including ethanol. Prices are poised to go higher after the U.S. government this week predicted U.S. farmers will plant sharply less of the crop in 2008 compared with last year.

Unemployment level highest in two years

The number of new people signing up for unemployment benefits last week shot up to the highest level in more than two years, fresh evidence of the damage to a national economy clobbered by housing, credit and financial crises. The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications filed for unemployment insurance jumped by a seasonally adjusted 38,000 to 407,000 for the week ending March 29.

Coming Saturday

It's especially important to file a tax return this year if you are eligible for an economic stimulus payment. But April 15 is fast approaching, so you need to get going, says The Color of Money columnist Michelle Singletary.