Consumers’ anxiety about their money has remained steady for the past three months, probably because of a concern about job growth, according to a study released Wednesday.
The Money Anxiety Index, produced by Dan Geller, a behavioral financial advisor in Larkspur, Calif., is a monthly measure of people’s level of anxiety about their money. It was lowest (38.7) during the 1960s and highest (135.3) during the early 1980s.
The level has remained virtually level for August (64.5) and September (64.4) and this month (64.3), says Geller. This follows a sharper decrease of 2.6 index points in July.
The three months of stagnation "points to a growing concern among consumers about the strength of the job market,” Geller says, adding that if it continues. it could point to a slower shopping season for the holidays.
In September, jobs grew by only 142,000 non-farm jobs, and in August the increase was 136,000.
“Historically, consumers spent more during the holiday season [in years] when the [index] was in decline, and reduced their spending when the index was flat or moving upwards, indicating growing financial anxiety,” Geller says.