Kerry Camp to Release Economic ‘Misery Index’

Times Staff Writer

Seeking to further his argument that the middle class is suffering under the Bush administration, Sen. John F. Kerry plans to release an economic study today arguing that a so-called misery index has worsened dramatically for middle-income families.

The study was conducted by the campaign’s economic advisors, including former Clinton economic advisor Gene Sperling and former Clinton Treasury official Roger C. Altman. The team analyzed data on median household incomes, college tuition, healthcare, gasoline and other factors, and concluded that, under President Bush, the middle-class misery index has worsened by 13 points.

A decline in family income, increase in college tuition and a hike in health insurance premiums contributed the most to the crunch, the study says.

The Bush campaign has argued that its tax cuts have actually alleviated the burden on working families.


A misery index became well-known during the Carter administration as an economic measurement used to express the combined effect of unemployment and inflation. Since then, it has taken on a broader meaning as a measurement of economic suffering.

By invoking the phrase, Kerry is attempting to underscore one of his ongoing messages: that Bush’s policies have made life harder for average Americans.

The Massachusetts senator picks up that argument on a day when he is kicking off a weeklong college tour hoping to energize young voters.

Today, Kerry is scheduled to visit the University of New Hampshire in Durham, accompanied by the acoustic pop band Guster. Later in the week, he is set to make stops in Providence, R.I., New York and Pittsburgh.