Consumers are sending worrisome signals that investors aren’t heeding. The same stimulative forces, plus a pandemic that curtailed social activity, helped U.S. consumers amass more than $2 trillion in savings, even as the labor market tightened and wages climbed. Consumers have become far less cheery while the stock market has marched higher, with the index hitting an all-time high on Thursday.
Meghan Picerno was back at work after 18 months of pandemic limbo, overjoyed to be singing and dancing again with her "Phantom of the Opera" castmates as they rehearsed for the return of Broadway's longest-running show. As the musical's late October reopening neared, sometimes all Picerno could think about was making it to the first curtain call unscathed by the breakthrough COVID-19 cases that had sidelined vaccinated actors at other shows. Outside long days in a chilly mirror-lined rehearsal studio near New York City's Times Square, Picerno had put herself back on what she called lockdown.
Well, consider that it supplies about 30% or more of elderly Americans' retirement income, with 37% of men and 42% of women getting 50% or more of their income. Recently, the average monthly Social Security benefit was $1,559 -- or about $18,700 per year. To get an idea of how much Social Security income you have coming to you, head over to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, and set up a "my Social Security" account.