When it comes to consumer confidence in an improving economy, much depends on your personal situation and where you live (especially as it relates to housing and jobs). Though the stock market rally is increasing individual wealth for investors -- on paper at least -- a strong economy is key for those seeking to amass wealth the traditional way -- by building a business.
So what do the numbers tell us? Signs of an improving economic environment include a drop in claims for unemployment benefits, which is leading to a rise in consumer confidence not seen since before 2008. Retail spending also ticked up 1.1 percent in February.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the Economic Club of New York that the economy is more productive than it was before the recession but added that consumer confidence is still shaky. He also singled out oil prices, which translate to higher costs for gasoline, as an impediment and called for development of additional energy sources.
For all the positive numbers, there is a lingering skepticism among many individuals still struggling to regain footing after their stock portfolios lost as much as half their value during the recession at the same time they witnessed a precipitous drop in the value of their homes.
Young people, who have the most time to benefit from investing in the stock market, are still shying away. At the other end of the population, retirement worries still plague many Americans, due to rising costs and past investment losses. A survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute revealed low confidence levels among workers who are concerned they won't have enough money to retire comfortably.
Do you feel like you are personally benefiting from an improving economy, or does it still feel like 2009?
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