"Our Children and Grandchildren are not merely statistics towards which we can be indifferent" JFK

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Consumers face more financial troubles as economy sheds more jobs than it creates (Consumer Reports)

In the past 30 days, 6.7% of those surveyed
have lost their job, but only 5.2%
have started a new job.
(their survey is not seasonally adjusted)

YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumers have a guarded outlook of the coming months as stress levels rise, employment remains flat and financial difficulties increase according to the Consumer Reports Index for February.

The Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index has again climbed for the third straight month (58.7), revealing increasing financial difficulty for consumers. The Trouble Tracker index, which tracks the depth and breadth of financial difficulties among households, has climbed up from 54.2 last month and from 53.4 one year ago.

The gains in retail activity coupled with increased financial difficulty may lead to a credit crunch for some consumers, especially as missing payments on major bills (9.7%) or missing a mortgage payment (3.2%) are up when compared to a year ago. Also, compared to last month, the number of consumers facing negative changes to their credit card terms (e.g., interest rates, penalty fees, credit limit) was up.

The Consumer Reports Employment Index shows no sign of improvement as it remained unchanged from the prior month at 49.2 and on par with a year prior (49.0). In the past 30 days, 6.7% of those surveyed have lost their job, but only 5.2% have started a new job.

"February's Employment Index is indicative of an economy shedding more jobs than it is creating and this kept sentiment in negative territory, despite other measures that have shown gains," said Ed Farrell, a director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "While the share of those starting a new job was up nominally from January, growth is insufficient to seriously address the expanding pool of unemployed or fresh job seekers."

The compounding of these various negative factors may be reason for the rise in the Consumer Reports Stress Index, which measure of the stress consumers feel in their everyday lives versus a year ago. Despite a significant drop in January, in February the index is up to 59.3 from 55.4 the prior month and is on par with one year ago (59.9).

Despite the negative factors, some green shoots remain particularly when it comes to retail. The retail outlook is improving as the Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index is up to 11.6 from last year (10.9). Similar signs of improvement are revealed in the Consumer Reports Next 30-Day Retail Index, which rose to 8.3, from 6.9 a year ago. Major home electronics and personal electronics are helping to fuel the retail gains for both indexes. Complete Press Release

Mark Haines and Erin "the princess" Burnett did not have their
glass 1/2 full this morning. No pom-poms on set.
Unlike the U.S. Government, Consumer Reports does not
seasonally adjust out the reality we all face daily.

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