Signs Of The Recession

There have been massive layoffs have in some of America's biggest industries. Three smaller signs of economic downturn: California's tax refunds are on hold, the Post Office is thinking of reducing delivery of mail by a day, and Starbucks is cutting back on decaf. Listeners weigh in on the signs of the recession in their lives.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Last week, we invited listeners to be economic reporters. We asked you to look for signs of the downward economic trend to see how it's changing daily life in small ways. Well, you did. And we're calling this segment Hard Times.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

You sent us sightings of dark clouds, and of silver linings.

SIEGEL: Bruce Irving of Cambridge, Massachusetts, serves on the city's historical commission. He's noticed an absence for the first time in 10 years, he says.

Mr. BRUCE IRVING (City Historical Commission, Cambridge, Massachusetts): We're not having a monthly meeting next month because there are no cases. There's no building going on, so there are no cases.

BLOCK: And in New Brighton, Minnesota, listener Al Heaps(ph) sees signs on the highway. He writes: Maybe I'm mistaken, but the commute home seems to be getting easier, with fewer people on the road the past few weeks. While it's nice getting home faster, and easier on the environment, I'd rather see more people working.

SIEGEL: Adrian Tucker(ph) of Raleigh, North Carolina, writes that she found a sign of the times at a fast-food restaurant.

Ms. ADRIAN TUCKER: I got to the window, and they'd actually given me two regular sugar packets. So, of course, I had to ask for my Splenda, because that's what I love. The woman gave it to me, and I thanked her, and I was about to drive away. And she said, excuse me, ma'am, are you going to use those sugar packets, the regular sugar? And I said, well, no. And she said, well, can we have them back, then?

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Finally, we end today's Hard Times report with this story.

Ms. CAROL SAVAGE(ph): This is Carol Savage. I'm a jewelry maker at Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. I've always had this lucky ritual I go through, which is, I leave a shiny penny on the ground in front of my booth as my lucky penny. And usually, once or twice, a child will pick it up and be thrilled that they found a penny. But with these recent hard economic times, I find that I've had to replace my penny eight to 10 times a day because what I noticed is adults pick the pennies up and pocket them.

SIEGEL: We'll keep putting your stories on the air about our economic times. So share your observations with us, observations about something that demonstrates change in the way we're living. A short note will do. Just go to npr.org. Go to Contact Us and put the words Hard Times in the subject line.

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