The October 2011 Consumer Reports Index, a measure of overall consumer financial health, showed some hopeful signs for the economy, but several recurring problems persisted. The Consumer Reports Sentiment Index dropped slightly to 47.6, down from 48.8 in September.
This index captures respondents’ attitudes regarding their financial situation, asking them if they are feeling better or worse off than a year ago, with a score below 50 indicating they are feeling worse off. There was also an increase in financial problems experienced by consumers, although retail indicators tracking recent and planned spending moved in a positive direction this month.
- Only 22% of consumers say they are confident in the chances for a strong economy in October 2011, according to BIGresearch survey data. This sinks further from last month’s dismal 22.7% as well as the less-than-impressive Oct-10 (28.5%) and Oct-09 (30.4%) readings.
- According to the National Retail Federation, September 2011 retail sales increased 0.4% from August and a better-than-expected 5.7% from last September, as shoppers continued to show strength during a weak economic recovery.
- Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is 8.3% in mid-October 2011, down sharply from 8.7% at the end of September and 9.2% at the end of August. A year ago, Gallup’s US unemployment rate stood at 10%.
- Total US August 2011 exports of $177.6 billion and imports of $223.2 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $45.6 billion, virtually unchanged from July, according to revised estimates from the US Bureau of Economic analysis. August exports were $100 million less than July exports of $177.7 billion. August imports were $100 million less than July imports of $223.3 billion.
- Despite an extended economic downturn, the public’s impression of whether the nation is economically divided remains relatively stable, according to Pew Research Center analysis. While 45% say American society is divided between “haves” and “have-nots,” 52% say it is incorrect to think of the country this way. This is comparable to the balance of opinion a year ago.