My MPR News colleague Mike Caputo spent the last couple weeks asking people in our Public Insight Network about having to sell the things they love in this economy to pay the bills. He got back some great, heartfelt stories.
Mike was on All Things Considered talking about it this afternoon. You can hear it here. It'll give you a great sense of the challenges many Minnesotans face and the decisions they have to make.
He talked to Jonathan Stimes of Burnsville, who lost his job as a radio sales executive six months ago and needed money to pay the mortgage. Mike writes that Stimes turned to some gold coins given to him as a gift from his father for working on the family farm years ago.
"I was not prepared for the sense and the feeling of my dad saying, 'I'm here for you still,'" Stimes said, choking up. "He was an exemplary father and I'm appreciating him more and more each day. There is still a few more coins down there that my mom says I can come and get, if I want. I'll do everything humanly possible to keep those."
Mike also found folks who were happy for the chance to unload stuff they no longer needed. Collectively, it offers a look at Minnesota's economy from a different vantage point.
We're trying to a lot more at MPR News to tell the story of Minnesota's economy through your stories.
You can help. Tell us a story about what the economy is like around you these days. We'll map them here at MinnEcon. Check out some of the responses we've mapped so far:
Can't retire now.
It's an uneasy refrain we've heard from many in our Public Insight Network since the markets took a dive last fall: Minnesotans conceding they simply can't afford to leave the job market and, in some cases, retirees who've told us they now need to find work.
One of our network folks, a retired veterinarian, told us last fall he expected his stock portfolio to provide him "splurge" money and savings, then noted wryly, "Our generous Uncle Dow Jones has inexplicably quit sending us checks in the mail."
Those uneasy feelings come through clearly in a new national survey that shows the public's retirement confidence at record lows in the country. The Employment Benefit Research Institute data show:
13 percent of workers say they're very confident about having enough money to retire comfortably, the lowest level since the survey began in 1993 and down from a peak of 27 percent two years ago.
28 percent of workers say they've changed their expected retirement age over the past year, with most saying it's because of their financial security.
If there's an upside, it's that people appear to be getting the message about saving money. They survey found 75 percent of workers saying they or their spouses have save money for retirement.
If you see anything else interesting in the survey, please post below.
What's the economy like around you? Send us your stories. We'll share them and map them on this site.
Too long. Too complicated. Too much money. Those are the comments we typically hear today, April 15.
So tell us what was different this year about doing your taxes. If you could wave the magic wand and make it easier, what would you do? Post below or click here and tell MPR News
Or if you just have a good insight to share about the economy around you, click here and shoot it to us.
Down to about 25 hours in Minnesota to get your 2008 taxes in the mail, unless you're in one of the counties affected by Red River flooding, in which case you have another 30 days and 25 hours.
Not sure what to say about taxes. I did find some interesting rankings of Minnesota's tax burden at the Minnesota Revenue Department. In 2006, the most recent data available, here's how Minnesota ranked among states:
21st in total state and local taxes as a percent of personal income
8th in total state taxes as a percent of personal income
Why the difference? The revenue department explains it's because Minnesota raised 77 percent of its state and local revenue at the state level, compared to the national average of 59 percent.
If you look at the trends in that data, Minnesota was 8th in 2000 and down to 21st in 2006. I don't know if that has more to do with a jump in personal income or a drop in taxes. Anyone with any thoughts on that? Please post something below.
Besides taxes, we'll also get a good look Wednesday at regional economic conditions when the Federal Reserve releases its latest Beige Book report. These are round-ups of economic conditions from each of the Federal Reserve Banks. Check out last month's report from the Minneapolis Fed.
I like the Beige Book because it's not just numbers. It relies also on anecdotes and interviews, which appeals to the reporter in me.
Share a story with us about the economy around you. We'll share them and map them on this site.