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I am reading the news http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23100323 / . But I can not understand very well the following sentences, especially those bold and italic phrases. Can you explain them one by one for me? Thanks a lot for your time.

Empty homes and for-sale signs clutter neighborhoods. Layoffs are on the rise(I guess this just means go on strick, right?). Paychecks and retirement investments are taking a hit.
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There are many empty homes or for-sale signs in neighborhoods.

There are more layofs. The number of layoff is increasing.

Paychecks are not as high as they have been, and people are putting less money into their retirement investments.
Thanks a lot. But here is one more question: How can thoes homes and signs clutter neighborhoods? I understand clutter here means make trouble to, right?
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Hi,
clutter means to fill a place with too many things, so that it is untidy
ex: Don’t clutter the page with too many diagrams.
I don’t want all these files cluttering up my desk.
(figurative) Try not to clutter your head with trivia.
BellyHi,
clutter means to fill a place with too many things, so that it is untidy
ex: Don’t clutter the page with too many diagrams.
I don’t want all these files cluttering up my desk.
(figurative) Try not to clutter your head with trivia.
Hi Belly, thanks for your answer. But may I know what do you mean by figurative? Sorry for this endless digging.
"For-sale" signs don't really clutter neighborhoods; they don't get in a way of anything.Clutter here just means that there are a lot of "for-sale" signs in the neighborhoods, and this is another way of saying, "A lot people are trying to sell their houses, but they can't because very few people want (or can) buy real estate right now".
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Hi,

According to Oxford dictionary, figurative is:(of language, words, phrases, etc.) used in a way that is different from the usual meaning, in order to create a particular mental picture. For example, ‘He exploded with rage’ shows a figurative use of the verb ‘explode’.