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Redefining what it means to be poor

via Flickr
Many Americans can't make ends meet, but they still don't meet the federal definition of poverty.

This may not be much of a surprise to many people struggling to pay their bills, but a new report suggests that federal poverty guidelines are seriously out-of-date.

Emma Sapong of the Buffalo News reports that hundreds of thousands of people in upstate New York lack basic economic security:

With 220,000, or 34 percent, of Western New York's 650,000 workers earning $26,000 or less, the report suggests even more residents, not just workers categorized as poor by the federal standard, are grappling with financial instability. In fact, a majority of municipalities in the region had median incomes in 2009 that fell below the BEST Index's numbers. Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Lackawanna's median incomes miss the "economic security" targets by wide margins.

Cost of living comparison

Even though New Yorkers earn more than the average American, does it matter?

Joe Light of the Wall Street Journal has a look at wage disparity across the country, and he points out that the Labor Department doesn’t adjust for cost of living:

So though New Yorkers earned $1.14 for every dollar that an average U.S. worker earned, that $1.14 probably bought less in that metro than it would in, say, Mobile, Ala., where workers earned 10% less than the national average.

American mementos "made in China"

After hearing that the Smithsonian Museum's gift shop sells souvenirs that are made in China, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia) has introduced the "Buy American at the Smithsonian Act of 2011."

Nicole Lapin of CNBC reports that the symbolism of the Smithsonian could spur a renewed interest in keeping manufacturing at home:

As more steps of the manufacturing process are outsourced to other countries, American products are harder to find, and often more expensive to purchase. Critics argue that as manufacturing moves overseas, American jobs go with it. However, some companies have committed to bringing manufacturing back home, recalling some of the "Made in U.S." zeal of the 1970s.B

On his blog, Mike Mandel, of the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington D.C., also laments the lack of U.S. made products he was able to find on a recent shopping trip.

The best place for a startup?

New York City is serving as a model for the rest of the country when it comes to helping companies get started through business incubation according to a report by Judith Messina of Crain's New York Business:

New York has several facilities, including three operated by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. Also in the mix are low-cost or no-cost workspaces, such as Sunshine Suites, New Work City and recently arrived General Assembly. Some, like Polaris Ventures' Dogpatch Labs, offer not only space but also workshops and classes on entrepreneurship, in an environment that Polaris calls “a frat house for geeks.”

And speaking of start-ups, Cassaundra Baber of the Observer-Dispatch, features a pair of entrepreneurs from Sherrill, N.Y. who have created some very cool beans.

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