Consumer confidence: "The economy really sucks"

Americans haven't felt this glum about their finances since 1980. Hmmm. What else happened in 1980?

Published June 27, 2008 3:51PM (EDT)

Consumers may be spending their economic stimulus checks, as proven by a significant jump in spending in May, but they sure aren't whistling while they work.

The latest release of the University of Michigan's Consumer Confidence survey describes an American mood that is as miserable as it has ever been.

More consumers than any time since the first survey was conducted in 1946 reported that their financial situation had worsened (57 percent). When asked to explain the changes in their finances, the highest number of consumers cited higher prices for fuel and food, and the smallest number of consumers reported income gains than at any other time in the history of the surveys. "Consumers held the bleakest inflation-adjusted income expectations since the question was first asked nearly a half century ago," noted [Richard Curtin, the Director of the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.].

Nine-in-ten consumers thought that the economy was in recession in June, with record numbers citing unfavorable news about rising prices, lost jobs, slowing economic growth, and the continuing fallout from the credit and housing crises. "Perhaps the most significant development in the past few months is that two-thirds of all consumers now expect the economic slump to extend into the next several years," said Curtin.

Most notable: The last time Americans felt this bad? May, 1980.

What else happened in 1980? The political party that did not occupy the White House won a landslide election and profoundly changed the course of American history.

Just sayin'.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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