Consumer Reports said that its Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index rose for the third straight month in a row, to 58.7. The index was 54.2 last month and 53.4 in February 2010.

There were more folks reporting some financial strain, with 9.7% missing a payment on a major bill, and 3.2% missing a mortgage payment.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Reports Employment Index remained unchanged from the prior month at 49.2 and on par with the 49.0 it stood at a year ago. In the past 30 days, 6.7% have lost a job, compared with 5.2% who have started a new job.

“February’s Employment Index is indicative of an economy shedding more jobs than it is creating,” said Ed Farrell, a director in the Consumer Reports National Research Center. “This kept sentiment in negative territory, despite other measures that have shown gains. While the share of those starting a new job was up nominally from January, growth is insufficient to seriously address the expanding pool of unemployed or fresh job seekers.”

Furthermore, the Consumer Reports Stress Index, after having dropped significantly in January, rose to 59.3 in February from 55.4 the month before. A year ago, this index stood at 59.9.