It’s been almost six years since global financial markets collapsed and triggered the Great Recession, which has had a lasting effect on American consumers. Millions of people lost their jobs, spending and investment evaporated, and bankruptcies and foreclosures intensified. Consumers lost confidence — not just in the U.S. economy, but in their own financial security. These negative effects continue to stall economic growth.
Though growth has been frustratingly slow, the economy seemed to be heading in a better direction by the end of 2013. Record days on the stock market, climbing home values, and a somewhat improving job market signaled the possibility of brighter days ahead. In the first quarter of 2014, however, a harsh winter led to an unexpected setback in growth. By June, many economists were predicting that the U.S. economy would experience growth at the same moderate rate for the year.