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Wednesday news: jobs, rents, cigarettes

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Apparently lots of LA employers are paying their people cash to duck the tax burden. The Daily News has a preview of a Milken Institute report out later today: those 680,000 "underground" jobs are costing Los Angeles $2 billion. There are recommendations in the report to help bring these workers into the, um, aboveground economy; the LA Times focuses on that optimistic angle.

Also in the LA Times: State attorneys general (the weirdest plural ever) in New York, Maryland and California want cigarette companies to stop marketing to young drinkers. Camel cigarettes has been sending free alcohol-related gifts to 20-somethings. We're less concerned with the alcohol-cigarettes link than we are about the marketing campaign's obvious ageism.....

The Compton Bulletin sits down with its sheriff, who runs a 78-deputy department, to look back over 2005. The conclusion: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

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LA Opinión has a story about the cost of rental housing (in Spanish), based on a report released yesterday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. California is second-most expensive state in the nation; in Los Angeles, a full-time worker should earn $22.87 an hour (upwards of $47,000/yr) to be able to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

If you think lots of families are caught between their wages and apartment costs (maybe because of those 680,000 underground jobs), you're right: a HUD report released yesterday says that more than 5 million low-income Americans lived in substandard housing in 2003, the last year they tallied.

Fun interactive game! See how much you need to make to afford to rent your place.

Downtown bank district lofts photo by Jim Winstead via Flickr