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The Los Angeles Times reports that a poll that it conducted in concert with Bloomberg News suggests that "Americans struggling with rising food and energy costs are more worried about their personal finances than at any time since the early 1990s." Among the findings noted by the Times:

• "Nearly 2 out of 5 people say the state of their personal finances is fairly shaky or very shaky, the poll found. And for the first time since 1993, the percentage of people who said their finances were very or fairly secure fell below 60% -- to 57%, said Times Poll Director Susan Pinkus. 'Anything below 60% is sort of like a warning sign of what's coming next,' Pinkus said. 'It paints the picture of a very grim, weakened economy that is affecting how people are going to spend'."

• "More than three-quarters of those polled said they thought the economy had fallen into a recession and that the country was 'seriously off on the wrong track'."

• "56% of registered voters said the economy should be the top priority for the presidential campaign -- a shift from December, when the majority said Iraq should be the candidates' focus."

• "Money worries plague Americans across the financial spectrum. Of those making between $60,000 and $100,000 a year, 26% described their finances as shaky; 10% of those making more than $100,000 … used the same terminology."

• The poll also found a sharp ethnic disparity in how Americans view their finances. Although 61% of whites and 54% of other ethnic groups polled said their personal economic situation was secure, just 39% of African Americans described their finances in positive terms. More than half of African Americans polled, 53%, said their finances were shaky; 34% of whites and 42% of other ethnic groups polled expressed similar concerns."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that "rising global grain prices helped spark the largest increase in monthly food costs in nearly 20 years, as consumers paid more in April for cereals, baked goods, and the dairy, meat and other animal products that rely on feedstocks, the government reported today.

"Food prices have risen 6.1 percent in the past three months on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. The one-month rise between March and April of 0.9 percent was the biggest since January 1990, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rise in prices covered all categories of food but was most severe among such staple goods as grains and oils -- goods where inflation has touched off food riots in some less developed countries and led to concerns about supply shortages."

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