The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 11, 2013

Financial woes have fallen to lowest level in 4 years, report says

Americans have seen their financial woes slowly abate, and now money-related problems have fallen to their lowest level in four years, a report says.

Consumers who reported financial troubles have dropped more than 50 percent since hitting a peak in September 2009, according to a Tuesday report from Consumer Reports. The index tracking these problems has fallen to its lowest level since April 2009.

Households that earned less than $50,000 and those that raked in more than $100,000 have experienced the largest drops in financial headaches, while middle-class Americans say their money worries got slightly worse last month.

“The data offer a glimpse that consumers may be starting to see and feel the progress of the economic recovery,” said Ed Farrell, director of consumer insight at the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

But the uneven report reflects a slow economic recovery that has seen the income gap between the wealthiest American households and the rest of the country widen.

Upper-income households have led the way for discretionary spending, with consumer confidence hitting its highest level in nearly six years last month. That was bolstered in large part by well-heeled Americans who enjoyed the benefits of this year’s sharp stock market rally.

Consumer Reports’ trouble tracker looks at the proportion of consumers who have faced problems along with the number of troubling events, which include home foreclosures, job losses and not being able to afford medication.

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