54% of Households Have Someone Who's Been Without Work This Year

Some commentators who take the economy's temperature by watching Wall Street just don't understand why consumers are so bummed. Look, they say, GDP is up! The S&P looks awesome! Hello, retail stocks! Well, yes. GDP is growing. The S&P is up 70% year-over-year. Retail stocks look nice. But this misses a bigger picture. Consumers are people, and consumer confidence grows from an improving labor market.

So maybe this helps put things in perspective. In a new Pew survey, more than half of respondents said someone in the house has been without a job and looking for work in the past year. Nine months after the economy stopped shrinking, this is what a bummed recovery looks like:

Annie Lowrey, who passes along this telling chart, also points to the 70 percent who reported major financial difficulty in the last year, including trouble paying for rent or health care. For analysts who wonder why consumers sound so depressed every time we ask for their opinion: please look at this chart carefully.




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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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