If employment is the root cause of the slow economy's continued stress, consumer spending is perhaps even more fundamental.
That's because weak sales discourage businesses from hiring, creating a vicious cycle in which consumers don't spend because jobs are sparse and employers don't hire because consumers aren't spending. From this, one can see why consumer activity accounts for roughly three-quarters of the U.S. economy.
But there may be good news on the horizon, as a survey released this week by American Express shows Americans are expected to continue spending over the next six months, despite adverse conditions.
Specifically, the survey found 21 percent of consumers plan to spend more and 43 percent expect to spend the same, relative to the first six months of this year.
"Many consumers - especially those out of work - are facing very tough times," said Pamela Codispoti, executive vice president of consumer card services at American Express. "So it's encouraging to see that those fortunate enough to be employed are experiencing feelings of greater job and financial security and are doing their part to stimulate the economy."