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Consumer Confidential: No retirement cash, more millionaires, and a new MSN

March 9, 2010 | 10:33 am

Here's your turbulently Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--We talk a lot about the millions of people who lack health insurance. Here's an equally scary stat: The number of Americans with virtually nothing set aside for retirement continues to grow. The Employee Benefit Research Institute says 43% of us have less than $10,000 saved for our silver years, up from 39% last year. An astonishing 27% of workers have less than $1,000 in their retirement kitty. At least we'll always have Social Security, right?

--But why worry? Turns out the number of millionaires in the United States rose by 16% last year after dipping sharply during the darkest days of the recession. As of 2009, nearly 8 million households had a net worth of $1 million or more, according to Spectrem Group, a consulting firm. A year earlier, the total number of millionaire households declined by 27%. And the number of big-rich households -- those worth $5 million or more -- grew by 17% last year to 980,000. I guess we're all really happy for these folk. So how come we're not among them?

--Remember when Microsoft was, well, Microsoft? The House That Gates Built is trying to stand tall against Google with a newly redesigned page for its portal, MSN.com. The new-and-improved site is a little cleaner and a little fresher, but not significantly different. The main purpose of the page seems to be to steer people to Microsoft's Bing search engine, which is a good deal better than previous Microsoft search offerings but, it must be said, isn't a Google beater.

-- David Lazarus

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