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CONSUMER REPORTS INDEX: FINANCIAL TROUBLES JUMP AND SENTIMENT STUMBLES FOR UPPER-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS

CONSUMER REPORTS INDEX: FINANCIAL TROUBLES JUMP AND SENTIMENT STUMBLES FOR UPPER-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS

Retail activity remains at weakest point since April 2009 

YONKERS, NY — The Consumer
Reports Index
, an overall measure of Americans’ personal financial
health, showed that more upper income Americans reported they are facing
significantly more  financial troubles
than last month. The Consumer Reports Index’s trouble tracker measure climbed
to 39.2 from 34.0 a month earlier—an increase that was entirely fueled by an
epic 23.3-point jump among those households earning $100,000 or more.

            The Consumer Reports Index’s trouble tracker measure
focuses on both the proportion of consumers that have faced difficulties as
well as the number of negative events they have encountered. The negative
events include: the inability to pay medical bills or afford medication; missed
mortgage payment; home foreclosure; interest-rate increase, penalty fees,
reduced lines of credit or other changes in credit-card terms; job loss;
reduced health-care coverage; and, the denial of personal loans.

The Consumer Reports Index’s overall consumer sentiment
measure remained in positive territory and unchanged from the previous month at
52.0. But those same consumers in households earning $100,000 or more reported
a dip in sentiment of 2.5 points, while lower- and middle-income segments were virtually
unchanged.

            “It’s possible the drop in the S&P 500 and NASDAQ
indexes, as well as the prospect of rising interest rates may have chilled the
outlook for affluent consumers,” said Ed
Farrell, director of consumer insight at the Consumer Reports National Research
Center.      

            The Consumer
Reports Indexes’ past 30-day
retail measure showed spending activity slackened to 8.6 from 9.2 a month
earlier, and was down from one year ago (9.9). The dip shows consumers are
still not comfortable spending. Planned spending for the next 30 days, reflecting
potential July activity, remains weak at 6.2, virtually unchanged from last month
at 6.0. The planned-spending activity numbers posted for the past two months are
the weakest since Consumer Reports first
measured them in April 2009.

            “The recovery is sluggishly moving forward. This month’s reported
sentiment setback and increased financial woes may have been promoted by perception
rather than reality. The steady, gradual improvement in the employment picture,
if maintained, is a very positive sign and may work to resolve the continued
weakness in retail as consumer confidence builds,” said Farrell. 

            For the fourth straight month, job gains outpaced job
losses. The Consumer Reports Index’s
employment measure was little changed this month, rising slightly to 50.9 from
50.6 a month earlier. This month was among the strongest in job starts at 7.7%,
up from 5.5% the prior month. However, this gain was partially offset by a
steep rise in job losses to 6.0% from 4.2% a month earlier.

            The level of stress that consumers reported was unchanged
at 55.7 from 55.2 last month. The most stressed Americans: women (57.7), those in
households earning under $50,000 (58.5), aged 35-64 (57.2), and those in the
South (58.0).

            The
Consumer
Reports
Index
report comprises responses directly from consumers on five key measures: the Sentiment Index, the Trouble Tracker Index, the Stress Index, the Retail Index and the Employment
Index
.

            The Consumer Reports Index, conducted by the
Consumer Reports National
Research Center,
is a monthly telephone and cell phone poll of a nationally representative
probability sample of American adults. A total of 1,010 interviews were
completed (660 telephone and 350 cell phone) among adults aged 18+.
Interviewing took place between June 27 and June 30. The margin of error is +/-
3.2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

            The
complete index report, methodology and tabular information are available.
Contact: Cassie Eberle, 704-987-4112, ceberle@catalystimg.com.
 

— 30 —

JULY
2013

© 2013 Consumer Reports.  The material above is intended for legitimate
news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes.
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whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all
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