As Holidays Approach, Employment and Finances a Concern
The Consumer Reports Index for October shows that despite the upcoming boost from the holiday retail seasons the same problems are continuing to keep recovery down. This Index measures a number of milestones to create a summary of the overall health of consumer finances. The retail environment is preparing for a medium quality season, but consumer confidence may not be high enough this year to drive a strong sales season. The wide-spread occurrences of financial difficulties and the falling levels of employment are keeping consumers from spending very much this year.
The Index is currently at 47.6, which is a slight drop from 48.8 that was recorded in September. The Northeast saw the biggest decrease with the loss of 11 points for the region. This shows that New England is suffering from the economic problems a little bit more than the rest of the country. The Employment section of the index did improve and finally broke into the positive side with a score of 50.2. Job gains grew more than losses by a very small amount.
Unfortunately, the Trouble Tracker rose to 49.7 and shows that consumer financial difficulties are continuing to pop up. These troubles include illness that results in medical bills, loss in health care coverage and the inability to pay the mortgage or other major bills. A slight recovery in employment isn’t coming quickly enough to prevent financial troubles for many families across the country. Households with annual income below $50,000 a year struggle the most with paying bills and dealing with old debts. This segment of consumers is also at risk for unemployment the most right now, and has a low rate of re-employment. September was a 10-month low for the Retail Index, but the beginning of holiday sales in October is helping it rebound.