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Consumer Reports Index: Half of Americans Languish While More-Affluent Flourish
Jul 7, 2011
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Consumer Reports said two years of data from its Consumer Reports Index shows that the economic recovery has been quite different for lower-income American households than for more affluent consumers.

The report tracks more-affluent households (annual income of $100,000 or more; represent 18% of Americans) and lower-income households ($50,000 or less; represent 50% of Americans).

The Sentiment Index is one component of the CR Index. It shows that:
• More-affluent households: The recovery began in February 2010, when the Sentiment Index for this group went from negative to positive (above 50). Sentiment continued climbing and reached a two-year high of 54.8 in June 2011.
• Lower-income households: Sentiment reached bottom in October 2009 and has risen slightly since then, but is still in negative territory.

The Trouble Tracker Index shows that, over the course of the recession, financial suffering among lower-income Americans has been three to five times the level of those earning $100,000 or more. This index measures eight financial troubles such as the ability to afford health care and missed mortgage payments.

Medical coverage and prescription medication affordability has been one of the biggest areas of disparity between the two groups in the past two years, CR said.
• The more-affluent: CR called affordability a "minor issue," with just 5% of this group reporting that they have had difficulty paying these expenses.
• Lower-income households: affordability of medical coverage has been a key problem in the recessions, affecting one in four households at one point; the impact of this issue on this group has been lessening in recent months.

The CR index shows continued suffering by lower-income households in terms of housing (missed mortgage payments still climbing to almost 9%, compared to less than 2% and falling among more-affluents) and employment (fewer job opportunities in 23 of the last 24 months, while more-affluents "hardly experienced a decline."

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