Americans this month became less upbeat about the outlook for jobs and business after sentiment reached a 16-year high two months ago in anticipation Washington lawmakers would help recharge the economy, according to data from the New York-based Conference Board released Tuesday.
Despite the drop, optimism is still running high on an economy that has kept producing a steady flow of jobs, rising stock and home prices and at least gradual gains in wages. The index of sentiment about current conditions is the second-highest since August 2001. The decline in expectations signals Americans may be growing less upbeat about the prospects for fiscal measures that would help propel growth. At the same time, it probably would take much bigger or more sustained decreases in confidence to curb the consumer spending that remains the primary engine for the world’s largest economy.