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Middle-Income Americans Report Sharp Increase In Financial Concerns

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MIDDLE INCOME AMERICANS
AP

While September's jobs report may have brought a sigh of relief to President Obama and the nation, the economic reality facing middle-income families is getting worse, according to a new report.

For the second month in a row, Consumer Reports' Trouble Tracker -- a measure of consumer sentiment -- sharply rose, indicating that a greater proportion of Americans are facing financial hardship. The increase was attributed to a significant jump (12.4 percent) in the number of concerns from middle-income families, or those earning $50,000 to $99,000.

"These signs are troubling for the economy," Ed Farrell, director of consumer insight at the Consumer Reports National Research Center, wrote in the report. The index measures consumer sentiment regarding employment, retail, sentiment, stress, and the Trouble Tracker.

Consumer Report’s measure of employment showed the country is still losing jobs than it is generating, despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting last Friday that the economy added 114,000 jobs in September. This is the second consecutive month that Consumer Reports has indicated increases in job loss.

The inability to afford medication and pay medical bills stands out at the biggest financial hurdle facing Americans. A poll tracking prescription drug affordability found that 45 percent of Americans under 65 without drug coverage did not fill their prescriptions due to the cost. This compares to 27 percent last year.

These findings confirm an August Pew Research Study indicating that five years after the financial collapse, middle-income Americans are still struggling to rebound. More than half of respondents said it would take them at least five years to recover and 8 percent said they never will. Additionally, the Center for American Progress found that not only has the median household income fallen $3,700 in the past decade, but fewer families are earning middle class incomes.

Unfortunately, economic relief from the government is unlikely. According to the Tax Policy Center, a middle-income family earning $40,000 to $64,000 a year may see its taxes go up by $2,000 in 2013, due to the expiration of a number of tax cuts set to expire in December.

Click here to see how much more you'll pay when the payroll tax cut expires at the end of the year.

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