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More Jobs, Lower Stress Over Money for American Workers

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The economy added 80,000 non-agricultural jobs last year and the unemployment rate dropped slightly, to nine percent, adding to some analysts’ speculations that many Americans may reach for their credit cards more often this holiday season.

Even though the Labor Department found that the nation’s unemployment rate improved, it still was below the expectations of many experts, many of whom were predicting 90,000 new jobs in October. Still, the movement was enough to bring the unemployment rate down a tad, from 9.1 percent, where it had hovered since August.

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That small decrease in unemployment may be enough to cause a decent-sized boost in retail shopping this holiday season, according to Dan Geller, an analyst at Money Anxiety Index. Retail and food service sales both may be around six percent higher this coming November and December than they were during the same period in 2010, according to Geller’s predictions.

Geller bases his prediction on what he calls the Money Anxiety Index, which attempts to gauge consumers’ overall level of worry about their economic futures. Our anxiety levels appear to be coming down, Geller told us in a recent email. The index is dropping from its recent peak of 99.5 in June to a predicted 98.5 in December. (By comparison, the index reached a record high of 136 during the recession of the early 1980s.)

“The slight decrease in the Money Anxiety Index is going to translate into higher spending this holiday season,” Geller says.

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Image: Courtney Carmody, via Flickr.com

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