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Despite a media consensus that the economy is on the mend, economic distress appears to be rising. This according to the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) which updated its monthly index of economic distress on Monday from 59.9 in November to 61.1 in December.

The current index is the highest since June of 2009 when the index topped out at 61.7. According to index creator Paul Cwik, an economist at Mt. Olive College, “while there have been gains in consumer spending, unemployment and production capacity, general price inflation has returned and is dominating any of the improvements.”

The Distress Index was created by FEE as a means for injecting a factual baseline into the politicized debate about the nation’s economy. Historically speaking, the U.S. has trended toward recession whenever the index tops 45. Current levels indicate the economy is still in a very deep recession that will last for some time.

For more information about the Distress Index, visit http://fee.org/distress-index/.