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CONSUMERS

Confidence at lowest since recession

NEW YORK — Americans say they feel worse about the economy than they have since the depths of the Great Recession.

Consumer confidence fell in October to its lowest since March 2009, a research group said Tuesday, an ominous sign for the economy as families begin to prepare their budgets for holiday shopping season.

The declining mood reflects the big hit that the stock market took in late summer -down almost 20 percent in one month - as well as frustration with an economic recovery that doesn’t really feel like one.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer sentiment came in at 39.8, down about six points from September and seven shy of what economists were expecting.

FINANCES

College prices reach another record

It’s a kick in the gut even for students and families hardened by bad financial news: Average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose another $631 this fall, or 8.3 percent, compared to a year ago.

Nationally, the cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000, an all-time high. Throw in room and board, and the average list price for a state school now runs more than $17,000 a year, according to the twin annual reports on college costs and student aid published Wednesday by the College Board.

Helping drive the national numbers were huge tuition increases at public universities in California, which enrolls 10 percent of public four-year college students and whose 21 percent tuition increase this year was the largest of any state.

But even without California, prices would have increased 7 percent on average nationally - an exceptional burden at a time of high unemployment and stagnant family incomes.

WASHINGTON

With $22M bet, Costco shakes up election

OLYMPIA — In a mostly calm off-year election, Costco Wholesale Corp. has mounted what is now the most expensive initiative campaign in Washington state history.

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