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We're Broke and We're Miserable

The American economy is in a miserable state, and Oregon is the most miserable state in the entire country - at least if you go



The American economy is in a miserable state, and Oregon is the most miserable state in the entire country - at least if you go by MainStreet.com's calculations.

The website ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the basis of three misery-producing factors - non-mortgage debt as a percentage of income, unemployment and mortgage foreclosure rates - and Oregon came in dead last.

We ranked 37th in debt, 49th in unemployment and 47th in foreclosure rate, for a composite score of 133 on MainStreet.com's "Happiness Index." (Contrary to what logic would suggest, a high score on the Happiness Index is bad. Hey, they designed this thing, not us.)

The happiest, or least miserable, of the states was Nebraska, ranking No. 5 in debt, No. 2 in unemployment and No. 49 in foreclosure rate, to compile a score of 9 on the Happiness Index. Others in the Top 10 were Iowa, Kansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Wyoming, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

"Contrary to popular wisdom that densely populated urban areas of the country have 'recession-proof' housing markets and boast impressively high average salary ranges, The Happiness Index suggests that the Midwest is the main source of financial happiness," MainStreet.com commented.

Okay, but financial happiness isn't everything. What about our 300 - uh, make that 186 - days of sunshine?

Meanwhile, The Oregonian offered this cheery headline on Monday: "UO Economic Index finds depression worsening in Oregon."

The University of Oregon index "fell 0.9 percentage points in February to 85.6 (1997=100), signaling continued deterioration in the Oregon economy. Five of seven components deteriorated," The Oregonian reported. "Timothy A. Duy, director of UO's Oregon Economic Forum, said the continued decline of the UO Index, coupled with its depth over the past six months, indicates the Oregon economy is likely to remain in recession for the foreseeable future, defined as three to six months."

What The Eye finds scariest about this is that, for the first time that we're aware of, The O has used the dreaded "D-word" in a headline to describe the current economic ... er, badness.

Not wanting to end this post on a down note, we conclude with some words of comfort from MainStreet.com: "Just as the U.S. economy evolves, so too will the MainStreet.com Happiness Index. Although Oregon currently falls at the bottom of our list, the state is well positioned for a boost in the future due to its potential for an influx of green jobs."

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