How's this for solid evidence that consumers are in favor of payday loan operations?

According to an Associated Press (AP), stocks for services such as payday loan lenders, discount stores and pawnshops are on the rise -- even though stocks for many other industries are floundering.

The AP has reported stocks for payday loan firms such as Advance America and Cash Advance Centers has soared by over 100 percent over the past year; and another outfit, Cash America International, has improved by 64 percent.

The stock surge for payday lenders could very well be a reflection of an economy that continues to struggle, as consumers search for ways to pay for urgent expenses.

Other industries that tend to serve financially strapped consumers -- rental centers and pawn shops -- are seeing positive gains in the stock market, as well. Rent-A-Center, for example, is up over 57 percent from 12 months ago. Texas-based pawnshop chain Ezcorp Inc. has

With one out of seven Americans now below the poverty line and consumer confidence waning, this trend is likely to continue.