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Consumer confidence

Construction workers in Washington, D.C., in December. The latest jobs report will further drive the "misery index" to its lowest level in more than half a century. But economists say meager wages and big debts are still problems. Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

"Black Friday" 2011 in Manhattan: Retailers hope to see shoppers out again in force this holiday season. If confidence stays high, they may get their wish. Michael Nagle/Getty Images hide caption

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Michael Nagle/Getty Images