Americans’ Economic Outlook Fell in January to Three-Month Low
By Jeanna Smialek - Jan 17, 2013
Americans’ economic outlook deteriorated in January to a three-month low as paychecks began reflecting higher taxes.
The gap between positive and negative expectations widened to minus 7 this month from zero in December as the share saying the U.S. economy is improving dropped to the lowest since September, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. The weekly measure declined to minus 35.5, the weakest since Oct. 7, from minus 34.4 in the prior period.
Households may find it harder to boost spending after payroll taxes to fund Social Security benefits reverted to 6.2 percent this year from 4.2 percent. While improving property values and cheaper gasoline are providing some relief, Americans are being subjected to constant political bickering over the federal debt limit and the budget.
“The depressed attitudes are undoubtedly a function of a diminished paycheck and uncertainties surrounding the U.S. fiscal situation,” said Richard Yamarone, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. “Consumers can’t spend what they don’t have.”