I’ll bet it would shake people up to know that all of the recent and steep decline in consumer confidence has occurred in households earning $75,000 or more per year. On Friday, the June Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers told us just that.
The key sentence in the U of M press release reads as follows (PDF; bold is mine): “Perhaps of greater importance was that the entire June decline was among households with incomes above $75,000.” Look at how the Associated Press’s Christopher Rugaber recharacterized that direct, unmistakable assertion in his four-paragraph item on Friday (bold is mine):
Higher-income households said they planned to cut back on spending, accounting for much of the drop.
Thus, a supposedly objective AP reporter avoided relaying the obvious lede to his readers, namely that all of the decline in sentiment is among those earning over $75,000 per year. What possible justification is there for this, Chris?
While acknowledging that AP could have subscriber-level access to the underlying detailed U of M data which the public isn’t allowed to see for six months (all the public gets to see until then is the press release linked above), there is almost no chance that the undisclosed detail provides any basis for Rugaber’s “much of” contention, even on spending, based on the following verbiage also found in the U of M release:
Buying Plans Decline Among Upper Incomes
Buying plans were unchanged among lower income households but were much less favorable among those with incomes above $75,000.
U of M’s statement means that all of the unfavorable change in “buying plans” (i.e., spending) occurred in upper-income households. There is no wiggle room in what the non-subscribing public gets to see.
In the absence of evidence he did not present, Rugaber’s contention that “much of” the drop in sentiment and spending plans is attributable to upper-income households is therefore presumptively false. The default is that all of the sentiment and spending-plan drops (or so close to all that “virtually all” is the only conceivable water-down) occurred in upper-income households, whose outlook is obviously crucial to the continuance of any kind of economic momentum.
It’s hard to attribute Rugaber’s apparently deliberate and indefensible decision to avoid relaying what U of M dropped in his lap — twice — to anything other than a desire to not let AP-subscribing outlets, their news consumers, and the general public grasp the full extent of the U of M report’s negativity. How disgraceful.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.