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Keller @ Large: Why Is Consumer Confidence Crashing?

BOSTON (CBS) - We're so lucky here in Massachusetts.

Even as much of the rest of the nation wallows in economic malaise, we're in Fat City.

Listen to Jon's commentary:


How do we know?

The governor told us so in his State of the Commonwealth address last month.

"We lead the nation in economic competitiveness," he said. "We have emerged from recession faster than most other states and stronger than we were before."

Sounds great, doesn't it?

But many of us apparently were watching something else that night, or, more likely, working second jobs to make ends meet.

According to the latest survey of consumer sentiment by the MassINC polling group, the public's view of our economic condition not only isn't in synch with the governor's rosy take, it has outright collapsed over the last few months, dropping 15 points from October to January.

Unsurprisingly, the survey finds, the highest levels of anxiety over the current and future state of our economy come from parts of the state with "relatively high unemployment rates." MassINC reports that nearly two-thirds of those earning less than $25,000 a year say they're worse off financially, compared with only 35 percent of those earning $150,000 or more.

While the rich are getting richer and the upper middle-class ride out the storm, the working poor are suffering. They are getting eaten alive by increases in the cost of living: gas, food, tolls, and yes, taxes, like the payroll and sales taxes federal and state governments keep hiking or trying to increase even as they claim they are strictly targeting the affluent.

And it would appear that whatever economic growth is occurring is not benefitting lower-income people to the point where they view the future with hope. This has been a problem for years, and if there's been dramatic progress made in spreading the opportunity around, it's not showing up in this survey.

Our politial leaders keep claiming success for their mostly-unsuccessful policies. Now the MassINC survey suggests lack of confidence in those leaders fuels lagging confidence in our economic future.

No wonder.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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