The latest Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index stood at just below 80 percent in February, compared to 144.7 at the height of the 2000 dot-com boom. That’s even though the Standard & Poor’s reached a record high last week, having soared about 180 percent from its March 2009 low.

That is largely because consumers still face plenty of obstacles, including falling household income — which has slid 6 percent since March 1998 to a median of $52,297, according to Sentier Research. At the same time, prices have gone up for important goods and services — including medical care, food and gasoline while interest rates on savings remain low.

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