People over 55 are more glum about the economy, consumer survey says
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There’s a lot going on in the economy — inflation continues to be a thing, the Federal Reserve is still raising rates, and don’t forget about the debate over how the United States will pay its bills.
The American consumer is seeing all this and feeling a little gloomier about business and labor market conditions. According to a reading out Tuesday from The Conference Board, consumer confidence slipped in May. And if you dig into the data, those over the age of 55 are feeling especially glum.
Patricia Brooks, 79, was headed to the bingo game when I caught her outside a senior center in southeast Baltimore. She wasn’t playing for big bucks.
“Just a couple of cents. That’s all we have! You know, nickels, pennies,” she said, laughing.
When Brooks was younger, she worked as a nanny and in retail — nothing that helped her save toward retirement. Now, living off only Social Security makes her feel like the economy’s doing terribly.
“We try to keep our homes as nice as we can, try to buy our groceries, but it’s hard,” she said. “You have other bills. You got a rough time with it. And medical. Oh, my Lord, medical is so high.”
A few blocks over, 69-year-old Michael Engler is out on his daily walk. He’s not worried about his economic future after just selling his financial planning and investment company.
“It’s a good business to be in, yes,” he said with a chuckle. “I finally got tired of it.”
But Engler isn’t very optimistic about the economy as a whole. “I think the job market is strong, but interest rates are higher. So buying a house is more difficult. People are calling for a recession later this year.”
People over age 55 are markedly more pessimistic than younger people, according to the consumer confidence survey. They have less time left to earn or save money and have had more time to accrue debt.
Ataman Ozyildirim, a senior director at The Conference Board, is almost 53 and said that he gets it.
“When I was in my 30s, I rarely looked at my retirement portfolio or the balance. But being over 50, now I’m thinking that, you know, my time horizon is shorter and I probably need to pay a little bit more attention,” he said. “It kind of focuses the mind.”
In some ways, how you feel about the economy in your 60s and 70s depends on how things went in earlier decades.
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