Consumer Comfort in U.S. Increases for Sixth Week in Last Seven

Household confidence in the U.S. rose for the sixth time in the last seven weeks, extending a rally in enthusiasm that began after inauguration of President Donald Trump, according to Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures released Thursday.

Key Points

  • Weekly comfort measure rose to 51 in period ended March 12 from 50.6
  • Weekly gauge strongest since similar readings in early 2007; index was last higher in August 2001
  • Monthly economic expectations gauge climbed to 54 in March from 50
  • Weekly index of sentiment about economy edged up to 48.4, highest since August 2001, from 48.2
  • Personal finances measure advanced to 59.3, the highest since October 2015, from 58.9
  • Buying-climate index improved to 45.1, the best reading since December 2001, from 44.5

Big Picture

This was the third straight week that the consumer comfort gauge advanced to a fresh post-recession high. Since Trump’s inauguration, every component of the comfort index has climbed, albeit with a political undertone. Optimism among Republicans has explained most of the increase, while Democrats have become more pessimistic. At the same time, sentiment among political independents is the highest in almost 16 years. The confidence figures, along with robust employment growth, help explain why economists remain upbeat about the prospects for household spending.

The Details

  • In the four months since Trump was elected in November, the percentage of those saying the economy is getting better has exceeded the share of those saying it’s worse
  • Republicans’ sentiment outpaced that of Democrats by the most since December 2010
  • Comfort picked up last week among households in the South, fell in the Northeast and Midwest, and was little changed in the West
  • Sentiment among respondents who were unemployed climbed to the highest level since August 2007