Study examines nature of consumer struggles

The phrase is heard all the time: Consumer confidence is down.

The phrase is heard all the time: Consumer confidence is down. Spending levels are abysmal, unemployment is high, commodity prices are up, and even gas remains expensive, despite hopes that prices might ease in light of less political turmoil in the Middle East.

That being said, Absolute Strategy Research has released a report analyzing the various factors contributing to consumer woes in the U.S. The group breaks the situation down into five key areas: financial security, savings attitudes, access to credit, housing and retirement.

While Americans are beginning to pay off their dues, particularly credit card debts, the majority are still in the red and are having trouble meeting their payments.

Specifically, three out of four Americans are in some form of debt, and among them 45 percent believe they have too much relative to their income. Nearly one-quarter of those respondents report having difficulty meeting their monthly credit payments.

Housing, the sector of the economy that led to the financial collapse of 2008 in the first place, has shown few signs of recovery.

"A third of all homeowners in our survey believe their house is worth less than they paid for it," ASR reports. However, "64 percent of homeowners and 42 percent of renters think now's a good time to buy a house."