Ike Lee Co-Authors Report on the Middle Class Squeeze on Retailers

Ike Lee studies political science at Yale and is a member of the first class of ISPS Director’s Fellows. As part of his fellowship, he spent the summer interning on the Economic Policy team at the Center for American Progress (CAP). Under the mentorship of CAP’s policy analyst, Brendan Duke, Lee co-wrote a policy paper that has just been released.

“Retailer Revelations: Why America’s Struggling Middle Class Has Businesses Scared,” examines the link between weak consumer spending and stagnating middle class wages.

In compiling the report, Duke and Lee reviewed the risk-factor sections in 10-Ks, Item 1A, from the country’s top 100 retailers of 2014, and then searched for mentions of consumer demand and spending as well as critical drivers: unemployment, consumer confidence, essential costs, housing, debt, and income.

From the report:

“That retailers depend on consumer spending is not a revelation, but that many retailers see flat or declining incomes as a risk factor is: 68 percent of companies point to flat or falling disposable incomes as a risk. Sixty-four percent of these companies that filed 10-Ks in 2006 cited incomes as a risk factor in their most recent 10-K, compared to just 32 percent in 2006.”

Full PDF of the report can be read here.

Center for American Progress brief here.

And coverage of the report in the New York Times and Huffington Post.