I’m all for good news, but when you read about our improving economy, be sure to check the fine print! I was stunned when I saw a headline that Americans are feeling less stressed over mountains of debt.
You’ve got to be kidding!
Interpreting statistics any which way
I’m no statistician, but I just don’t buy it. This article distributed by the AP suggests that we’re feeling better about our financial woes. Or at the very least, less stressed. The article goes on to (glibly) say: “Chalk it up to the power of positive thinking.”
I don’t think so!
Apparently, pollsters (and reporters) are interpreting new data as a (supposed) more optimistic outlook. And that, despite sinking deeper into financial distress, and with unemployment at a 26-year high!
My take on less stress?
Given prolonged worry, it’s human nature to find coping mechanisms. It’s impossible to sustain a perpetual state of fear or anxiety. Instead, we move into “the zone” – in this case, I’d say it’s a deer-in-the-headlights, borrowing cruise control in which we continue sliding the credit card through the reader, hold our breath, and hope we make it through one more transaction. Not to mention, one more day.
Or, we medicate.
And judging by everyone I know on anti-depressants, if I believed the headline (and conclusion), I’d say apparent lowered stress is a function of battle fatigue, and good drugs.
Mountain of debt – Look at the data!
Also worthy of mention: the sample consists of telephone interviews with 1,000 adults, updating a statistic known as “the Debt Stress Index.”
Take a look at a few of the details:
- 63% of the respondents are employed
- of those who are not, 74% are either retired, homemakers, or students, in other words, not personally in the pool of unemployed
- only 27% have a college education or higher (draw your own conclusions)
- only 24% fell into the 50-64 age bracket – the segment that’s caught between a rock and a hard place; unable to retire, and a tough sell to an employer
- only 35% still had children at home to care for (or pay for).
Might the data be a bit skewed?
Perhaps the pollsters might consider a more representative pool?