Employment and Unemployment:
As recently as September 2008, the unemployment rate was at 6.1%. Employment is falling in construction, manufacturing, and retail trade; however, mining and healthcare continue to add jobs. The long term unemployment is currently at 2 million, which is an increase of 728,000 over the past year.Women's unemployment rate is 4.6 and men's is 4.9. The average weekly earnings of the american worker is $605.40. Through the month of September, construction lost35,000 jobs, retail trade lost 40,000, transportation and warehousing lost 16,000.
Healthcare employment increased in September with a gain of 17,000. Department stores lost 11,000 jobs in the month of September, and so far this year have lost 68,000 jobs.
Consumer spending has slowed throughout the entire year. The decrease in spending hasn't happened since 1991. This decrease pushed the economy into a recession. Stores such as Nordstrom, Tiffany, Target, and J.C. Penney all reported a slowdown and in some cases a flat out drop in business. Coach has even reported slower sales.
The consumer confidence has also plunged. This plunge was caused by the dissatisfaction with the economy. This does not just apply to the middle class, but the wealthy as well.
This drop in consumer spending and lack of consumer confidence is a direct relation to the year 1980. as stated in the New York Times article Americans Cut Back Sharply on Spending, it is stated,"only once before, in 1980, did consumer spending fall during a persidential election year."
The lack of spending has also caused a drop in housing prices. Higher mortgage payments have also slowed consumption. The one area that has actually risen was gasoline prices. Not only did gasoline prices rise, but so did natural gas, electricity, and home heating oil.
The one thing that people spend their money on/ splurge on are electronics such as gps navigation systems, flat panel tvs, ipods, etc.
Media becomes the most influential aspect in the consumers life. Idols such as Lauren Conrad, Brad Pitt, Britney Spears, etc. influence consumer spending. There are multiple fashion and celebrity magazines that influence the thought and lifestyle of many consumers. Such magazines are Cosmopolitan, People, US Weekly, Elle, Vogue, and many more.
Politics were a huge influence on the consumer. With this being the election year, and now looking to a new president, many people can expect change. This may increase consumer confidence.