April Showers Did Not Bring May Flowers

The June Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index measuring financial difficulties faced by consumers in the past 30 days, worsened, rising to 63.5 from 53.0 in May. The most troubling increase is in missed mortgage payments, which reached 3.9%, its highest level since tracking began in April 2009. The latest numbers show consumers have taken a step back facing increases in financial difficulties and a soured employment picture, says the report.

Some of the key findings include:

In June, more consumers reported difficulty in affording medical bills or medications versus the prior month,and faced lost or reduced healthcare coverage

  • The Employment Index has dropped, pointing to an increase in the ranks of the unemployed, at least temporarily. The decline was led by the proportion of Americans that lost their jobs in the past 30 days
  • Despite the high job losses posted in June, 7.4% of Americans reported starting a job in the past 30 days, well above May, and achieved its highest level recorded since April 2009.
  • Consumers have scaled back their interest in shopping as well. The past 30-Day Retail Index for June, reflective of May activity, is 10.8, unchanged from the prior month
  • May's next 30-Day Retail Index, reflective of planned purchases for June, is down slightly from the prior month. Per capita spending for the index categories in the past 30 days was $234, down slightly fromay ($248)

The Consumer Reports Index report comprises five key indices: Sentiment, Trouble Tracker, Stress, Retail and Employment. Here are the key findings:

Consumer Sentiment is unchanged from the prior month. The most optimistic consumers are between the ages of 18-34 (52.3), and with a household income of $100,000+ (54.9).  The most pessimistic are households with an income less than $50,000 (39.2) and Americans 65 or older (41.7).

The Sentiment Index captures respondents' attitudes regarding their financial situation, asking them if they are feeling better or worse off than a year ago. When the index is greater than 50, more consumers are feeling positive about their situation. When it is below 50, more consumers are feeling worse.

The Trouble Tracker Index addresses the proportion of consumers that have faced difficulties and the number of hurdles they have encountered. This index has shown a significant increase this month, pointing to more troubles for consumers, rising to 63.5 in June from 53.0 in May.

Key financial difficulties faced by consumers this month included:

  • Unable to afford medical bills or medications (16.4%), up from 13.7% in May
  • Missed payment on a major bill - not mortgage (9.4%), up from 8.7% in May
  • Lost or reduced healthcare coverage (9.3%), up from 7.9% in May

Lower-income households, earning less than $50,000 a year, have been disproportionately affected. In the past 30 days:

  • 28.1% Have been unable to afford medical bills or medications
  • 15.9% Lost or have reduced healthcare coverage
  • 13.7% Missed payment on a major bill - not mortgage

The Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index is calculated as the proportion of consumers that have experienced at least one of the negative events comprising the index, multiplied by the average number of events encountered.

Consumer Reports Retail Index: Past 30-Day - 10.8, Next 30-Day - 8.5

  • The past 30-Day Retail Index for June, reflective of May activity, is at 10.8, unchanged from 10.9 in May.
  • June's next 30-Day Retail Index, reflective of planned purchases for June, is at 8.5, down marginally from 9.0 the prior month
  • Major appliances, small appliances, major home electronics, personal electronics, major yard/garden equipment were down slightly from the prior month. Personal electronics registered a small gain in June (22.8%) versus May (20.8%)
  • Past 30-day purchases, reflecting May activity, were up slightly for new cars (3.2%) and used cars (5.8%) from the prior month. Home purchases were up slightly in June (3.1%) relative to May (2.7%), capping three straight months of increases

Consumer Reports Stress Index: 57.6

  • According to the Stress Index, the level of stress consumers feel they are under (57.6) is down slightly compared to both the prior month (59.6), and is unchanged from one year ago (57.0). When the Stress Index is more than 50, consumers are feeling more stress compared to a year ago.

Consumer Reports Employment Index: 49.4

  • The Consumer Reports Employment Index fell back to 49.4 from 50.6 in May. The decline was led by the proportion of Americans that lost their jobs in the past 30 days (8.6%)
  • Despite the high job losses posted in June, 7.4% of Americans reported starting a job in the past 30 days, well above May (6.0%), and achieved its highest level recorded since the start of the Index in April 2009

The Consumer Reports Employment Index examines the change in employment of those that reported starting a new job versus those that have lost their job or were laid off in the past 30 days. An index below 50 indicates more jobs were lost than gained.

For more information about the Consumer Reports Index, please visit here.

The Consumer Reports Index, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center is a monthly poll of a nationally representative probability sample of American adults. The margin of error is +/- 2.8 points at a 95% confidence level.

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1 comment about "April Showers Did Not Bring May Flowers".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , June 28, 2010 at 9:51 a.m.

    The longer people go without health insurance, the sicker they get. We haven't even gotten near the fall out of what lost health care is going to do to purchasing power.