Bloomberg by the Numbers: -34.4

Photograph by Michael Short/Zuma Press via Corbis

Payday Advance signs at California Check Cashing in Oakland, Calif. Less money will be in U.S. paychecks due to a higher Social Security tax rate.

That’s the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index for the week ended Jan. 6.

The index, which is derived from how Americans rate the economy, the buying climate and their personal finances on a scale of minus 100 to plus 100, fell from minus 31.8 in the previous week.

“Paychecks are shrinking after Congress last week let the tax that funds Social Security benefits revert to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent,” Bloomberg News reporters Alex Kowalski and Shobhana Chandra wrote yesterday.

The index, while still well below zero, had “its best start to a new year since 2008,” according to Langer Research Associates, which produces the figures for Bloomberg News. Yet there are “real questions as to whether it can consolidate and extend” the gains it made late last year, Langer Research Associates said in a written analysis.

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