By Tiffany Hsu
2:53 PM EDT, October 9, 2012
Financial woes are only worsening for middle-income Americans living in the West, according to an index calculated by Consumer Reports.
Problems such as job loss and high prices have especially plagued households earning between $50,000 and $99,000 a year, which reports of difficulties jumping 12.4% last month. High-income families said they suffered a 2.4% increase in such money-related hurdles.
While the so-called Trouble Tracker index declined in the Northeast and South, financial problems increased 8.4% in the North Central region and a whopping 27.9% in the West.
Americans said that the inability to afford medications or cover medical bills was their top concern. The employment market isn’t helping – Consumer Reports found that the economy has lost more jobs than it’s created for the last two months.
On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund warned of an “alarmingly high” risk of a serious global slowdown due to fiscal issues in the U.S. and Europe, downgrading its forecast for economic growth.
"Our numbers suggest the core of the problem remains a weak employment picture, which results in falling consumer confidence levels," said Ed Farrell, director of consumer insight at the Consumer Reports National Research Center, in a statement. "Without a substantial improvement in the jobs outlook, it is unlikely that consumers will have the inclination to spend."
But for now, that’s not the case. Retail spending was up in September after four months of declines, along with purchases of homes and new cars.
Small-business owners, while still pessimistic, said for the first time in a year and a half that they’re expecting better business conditions over the next six months.