January Consumer Reports Index

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Each month Consumer Reports asks a cross section of Americans about specific financial problems they've faced in the past thirty days - problems like losing a job …having a problem with health care coverage … or missing a payment on a major bill.

Low-income Americans saw an increase in financial troubles in the past month. However, things got much better for higher-income households - those earning $100,000 or more.

You can clearly see the differences when you look at specific problems.

For example - not being able to cover health care costs - either medication or medical bills.

Among lower-income households, more than 20% reported a problem in the past month, but for those in higher-income households, it was 3%.

As for losing jobs - in lower-income households 10% were laid off versus under one percent in higher-income households.

Overall the job situation isn't a pretty picture.

The Employment Index saw declines for the second month in a row, dropping even farther below 50, which means more people are losing jobs than gaining them.

And those who do have jobs are going to see a smaller pay check in January because the payroll tax is back up.

Consumer Reports also asks people how they feel about their financial situation. The most optimistic group is those 18 to 34 years of age. The least optimistic - people older than 65.

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