Mood Gap Widens Between Upper- and Lower-Income Americans

March 6, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Financial Services | Household Income

The mood among upper-income Americans worsened in February, continuing a year-long downward slide, while the mood of lower-income consumers remained the same, according to the latest data from Gallup’s Consumer Mood Index.

As a result of the decline, upper-income consumers – who were much more optimistic than their lower-income counterparts a year ago – have now reversed positions with them, Gallup said.


In February 2009, 72% of lower-income consumers said the economy was getting worse – slightly better than the 74% of January and an improvement over the 79% of February 2008. In sharp contrast, 84% of upper-income Americans say the economy was getting worse – a deterioration from the 80% of January as well as the 79% of a year ago.


The greater pessimism now evident? among upper-income Americans – compared with those with make less – continues a trend that began to emerge last year. During the first half of 2008, surging gas prices worsened the consumer mood – particularly among lower-income Americans. Despite declining gas prices in the early fall, the financial crisis further depressed the consumer mood – particularly among upper-income Americans.

By December, pessimism among upper-income Americans had slightly surpassed that among the lower-income group. Both groups’ mood improved slightly in January, before upper-income Americans (but not those with lower incomes) became decidedly more negative in February.

Gallup attributes the declining mood for upper-income Americans to sharply falling housing prices and stock values , which have disproportionate impact on those in the upper-income group. Continuing job losses continue to depress the mood of all Americans.

About the research: Gallup’s Consumer Mood Index is based on aggregated interviews with a nationally representative sample of approximately 15,000 adults, aged 18 or older, each month. Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only). Upper-income respondents are defined as those who make $90K+ annually.? Lower-income Americans are defined as those who make less than $24K.


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