Monday, November 11, 2013

US consumers tapped out as holidays approach

American shoppers have a way of rallying when the holidays roll around. But years after the Great Recession, consumers' budgets remain badly squeezed by flat wages, higher payroll taxes and a weak job market.

"It's been a tough year for consumers overall," said Target Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan. "They started the year with the payroll tax increase, and lower and middle-income consumers bore the brunt of that. They were already stressed. The economy has improved slowly over time, but it's been a choppy recovery for sure."

Choppy indeed. With the economy growing at just 2.2 percent since the recession ended in June 2009, there aren't enough good-paying jobs for the millions of Americans out of work or looking for more hours.

Much of the growth in new jobs is in relatively low-wage, low-skilled industries such as retailing and restaurants. Even with the growth in those sectors, there aren't enough jobs to go around—and won't be until overall growth picks up. Read more >>

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