What Is the Economic Anxiety Index?

Economic chart.

Getty / Yuichiro Chino

What Is The Economic Anxiety Index?

The Economic Anxiety Index is a measure of how Americans feel about their personal finances and the economy.

The Index is based on a quarterly survey of roughly 1,000 American adults aged 18+, conducted by telephone using live interviewers or online. Respondents are asked 12 questions from three categories: general anxiety, saving and expense, and job security.

The Index is sponsored by Marketplace, a public radio program that covers business and economics news, and Edison Research, a research firm specializing in media and public opinion polling. The Index has a minimum score of 0 and a maximum score of 100. The higher the score, the greater the economic anxiety.

History of the Economic Anxiety Index

The Economic Anxiety Index was created by Marketplace and Edison Research to track Americans' economic anxiety. The Index was first created in the fall of 2015 based on a survey of roughly 1000 respondents. The results of that first survey indicated the following results:

  • Over a quarter of respondents were losing sleep over their current financial situation.
  • Over 40% felt stuck in their financial situation.
  • Nearly two-thirds felt sometimes or frequently anxious about their financial situation.
  • Almost two in five respondents who had student loans did not feel like they were worthwhile.

These findings show that there is a significant level of economic anxiety among Americans. However, it's important to remember that the Index is just a snapshot of how people are feeling at a particular moment in time.

How the Economic Anxiety Index Is Used

The Economic Anxiety Index is a valuable tool for understanding how Americans feel about the economy and their personal finances. The Index is used by policymakers, businesses, and the media to gauge the public's mood on the economy. The Index is also used by economists and other researchers to study economic anxiety and its impact on consumer trends.

Implications of the Economic Anxiety Index

The Economic Anxiety Index can have a number of implications for businesses, policymakers, and individuals. These include the following:

  • For businesses, the Index can be used to understand how economic anxiety affects consumer behavior. When anxiety levels are high, people are less likely to spend money on non-essential items. This can have a negative impact on businesses, especially those that rely on consumer spending to drive revenue.
  • For policymakers, the Index can be used to gauge the public's feelings regarding the economy and to assess the effectiveness of economic policies. When anxiety levels are high, it may be indicative of a need for policy changes.
  • For individuals, the Index can be used to understand how economic anxiety affects behavior. When anxiety levels are high, people may feel stressed and overwhelmed. This can lead to a number of negative health outcomes, including anxiety and depression.

Regardless of how it is used, the Economic Anxiety Index can provide valuable insights into the economy and how it affects people.

Key Findings of the Economic Anxiety Index

The key findings of the Economic Anxiety Index are as follows:

  • Economic anxiety is widespread in America. In any given month, about half of Americans report feeling anxious about the economy.
  • Economic anxiety fluctuates over time. Anxiety levels tend to increase during economic downturns and decrease during periods of economic growth.
  • Economic anxiety can have a significant impact on consumer behavior. When anxiety levels are high, people are less likely to spend money and more likely to save it.

These findings show that economic anxiety is a real and powerful force in America. If you're feeling anxious about the economy, you're not alone. And if you're looking for ways to cope with your anxiety, there are resources available to help you.

Tips for Using the Economic Anxiety Index

Here are some tips for using the Economic Anxiety Index:

  • Use the Index to understand how Americans feel about the economy and their personal finances.
  • Use the Index to gauge the public's mood regarding the economy.
  • Use the Index to study how economic anxiety affects spending and saving behavior.
  • Use the Index to understand how economic anxiety varies after national events such as a recession or natural disaster.
  • Use the Index to track changes in economic anxiety over time.
  • Use the Index to compare economic anxiety levels across different groups of people who participate in the survey.
  • Use the Index to help you make decisions about your own personal finances.

However, keep in mind that the Index is only one tool and should not be used as the sole basis for making economic decisions. Also, remember that the Index is based on a survey of adults aged 18 and older and may not be representative of all Americans.

Potential Pitfalls of the Economic Anxiety Index

There are a few potential pitfalls of the Economic Anxiety Index:

  • It is based on a survey of 1,000 American adults, so it may not be representative of the entire population.
  • It only measures economic anxiety, so it doesn't capture other important aspects of the economy.
  • It is only updated quarterly, so it may not be timely enough to capture changes in economic anxiety levels.
  • It only measures economic anxiety at the national level, so it may not be able to capture economic anxiety at the local, state, or community level.

Regardless of these pitfalls, the Economic Anxiety Index is a valuable tool for measuring economic anxiety in the United States.

A Word From Verywell Mind

If you are concerned about the economy or your personal finances, the Economic Anxiety Index can be a valuable tool for understanding how Americans feel about the economy and their personal finances.

The Index can help you gauge the public's perception of the economy and track changes in economic anxiety over time. However, it is important to keep in mind that the Index is only a snapshot of economic anxiety levels and it doesn't capture all aspects of the economy.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Marketplace. The Economic Anxiety Index Explained.

  2. Edison Research. Marketplace-Edison research poll finds individual economic anxiety even in growing economy.