Ronald Reagan's old campaign zinger that asked if you were better off than you were four years ago is getting a new lease on life. The Consumer Reports Index, which tracks the financial optimism of Americans, plunged more than five points to 43.4 this month, the lowest in two years.
The index is a percentage of Americans who says they are financially better off than they were one year ago. When the index is above 50 percent, more Americans feel upbeat about their financial prospects.
The most pessimistic faction polled in the overall group consists of households with an annual income less than $50,000 (38.9) and Americans ages 65 and older (32.8). The most optimistic factions are Americans ages 18 to 34 and households with an annual income of $100,000 or more (53.3).
"The Consumer Reports Index shows no clear signs pointing to an economic recovery any time soon," said Ed Farrell, director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "Too many households are feeling financial pain, and more jobs were lost than created. Unfortunately, the burden of this bad economy has fallen on the households that earn less than $50,000 a year. They're the ones having trouble finding new jobs, paying bills and affording health care."
Consumer Reports is probably best known for its no-nonsense monthly magazine that annually ranks items like home appliances and automobiles.