Consumers and job market focus of economic reports - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Consumers and job market focus of economic reports

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WASHINGTON. - This week's economic reports include a new look at two key segments of the economy: consumers and the job market.

The Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence Index Tuesday morning. Consumer sentiment, which was already gloomy, went into free fall in February, breaking new historic lows. Also Tuesday, Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller releases its January index of home prices.

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Wednesday, the Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for March and major automakers report U.S. auto sales for March.

Also Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors releases its pending home sales index for February, and the Commerce Department reports on construction spending for February.

Thursday, the Commerce Department releases factory orders for February, and we'll get the regular weekly reports on jobless claims from the Labor Department and mortgage rates from Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance company.

The week will be capped with an update on the job market, when the Labor Department releases unemployment data for March.

The Institute for Supply Management releases its non-manufacturing index for March.

Wash. Senate budget proposal unveiled

Senate Democrats would drastically cut education spending and eliminate some tax breaks to balance a $9.3 billion budget deficit.

VIEW: Entire budget propsal
The Senate's budget proposal is being unveiled Monday in Olympia. It lays out a $33.2 billion budget for the 2009-2011 fiscal year. That's about $1 billion less than the last budget. Public schools are taking a big hit, with a cut of about $1.3 billion. That doesn't count the money being saved by skipping teachers' pay raises.

Proposed Cuts

- 8,000 state employees
-10,000 college enrollments
-45,000 people in low-income health insurance
- Close a McNeil Island prison and the Green Hill juvenile prison in Chehalis.
- There would be no salary increases for teachers

Higher education and human services also would be cut, but the Senate also wants to close some tax loopholes, which could set up a conflict with voter-approved tax limits.

Among the loopholes are one for banks selling foreclosed homes, and one for people who buy hybrid cars.

G8 Summit focusing on global employment

G8 labor ministers are meeting in Rome to discuss the employment side of the global financial crisis.
 
U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is among the officials attending the three-day meeting.
 
The International Labor Organization said earlier this year that the global financial crisis could claim up to 50 million jobs over 2008 and 2009.
 
The World Bank also warns that the crisis could push 46 million people into poverty.
 
Officials at the meeting in Rome want to emphasize how important employment issues are for this week's G20 Summit in London.

The G8 comprises the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Canada and Russia. Italy holds the G8 presidency for 2009.

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