New Low for Personal Finances; Overall Confidence Comes Close

Thirty-nine percent rate their finances positively.

ByABC News
December 9, 2008, 9:59 AM

June 23, 2009 — -- Americans' ratings of their personal finances have tumbled in the last six weeks to their lowest in 23 years of weekly polls, pushing overall consumer confidence to within a point of its worst ever.

Just 39 percent of Americans in this week's ABC News Consumer Comfort Index rate their own finances positively, down 13 points in six weeks – the biggest such drop on record – as spiking gas prices have added insult to recessionary injury.

Click here for PDF with charts and data table.

That, moreover, is the best of the index's three measures. Just 24 percent rate the buying climate positively, steady within a 3-point range since mid-April; and a mere 7 percent rate the economy positively, in a 1-point range for six weeks.

The overall ABC CCI, based on these gauges, stands at -53 on its scale of +100 to -100, down 4 points this week, down 11 points from its recent high of -42 on May 10 and just a point from its all-time low, -54, Jan. 25. These compare to a long-term average of -12.

The trend matches other data: A separate ABC News/Washington Post poll this week found diminished expectations that the federal stimulus has helped or will help the economy, down 7 points from April to a slim majority of 52 percent today. And views that the country's heading in the right direction leveled off after steady gains this year.

Gas prices are up for the eighth week to $2.69; unemployment its highest since 1983.

TREND – At -53, the CCI is 4 points below its 2009 average and 9 points below its worst annual average, -44 in 1992. It's been below -40 for a record 61 weeks, and hasn't seen positive territory for over two years. Its record high was +38 in January 2000.

Among the individual gauges, positive ratings of the buying climate are 13 points below their long-term average; positive ratings of personal finances, 18 points below average; and positive ratings of the national economy a whopping 31 points below average, as well as in single digits for 35 of the last 37 weeks - another record.