The XX Factor

Recession Briefing 8.14

Sales of bottled water have fallen for the first time in at least five years, assailed by wrathful environmentalists and budget-conscious consumers who have discovered that tap water is practically free. ( Los Angeles Times )

With Washington bickering over how to reform the health care system, many Americans are simply head to Mexico to get care they can afford . ( Reuters )

Unemployed Americans are so discouraged about the prospect of finding a new job that they’re checking out of the labor force at the highest and fastest rate in nearly 10 years. Further, the recession has forced more full-time workers into part-time slots than at any time over the past 15 years. ( Washington Post /The Ticker )

New public, private and college-based programs are targeting a grim and growing market: unemployed college graduates who can’t afford to repay their student loans. ( USA Today )

A bleak report on retail sales Thursday reinforced a nagging worry of economists: Shoppers won’t spend enough to help a recovery take hold. ( Associated Press )

The United States Census Bureau reports that for the first three months of 2009, new homes shrunk by 7% over the same period of 2008. The last time home sizes fell was in 1994. ( WalletPop )

Does higher unemployment lead to more drug use? ( New York Times /Economix )

More employers are planning to reverse pay cuts and other employee cutbacks , another sign that the employment picture is improving. ( CNN/Money )

A government program that allows borrowers with little or no equity in their home to refinance has helped about 60,000 homeowners so far , according to government data released Thursday. ( Washington Post )

Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit is offering signing packages greater than those handed out in the bull market of 2006 and 2007 , as it ramps up its recruitment programme to replace many financial advisers who have left its “thundering herd” in the past year. ( Financial Times )