Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

U.S. Consumer Comfort Rises a Seventh Week to Fresh 16-Year High

The seventh straight weekly gain in Americans’ confidence indicates a strong job market and healthier household finances are buoying optimism about the economy, according to Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures released Thursday.

Highlights of Bloomberg Consumer Comfort (Week ended Aug. 27)

  • Consumer comfort measure climbed to 53.3, highest since March 2001, from 52.8
  • Gauge of views on the economy rose to 16-year high of 54.4 from 53.2  
  • Index of personal finances improved to 59.3 from 59
  • Index of buying climate at three-month high of 46.1 after 46

Key Takeaways

The comfort index’s 6.3-point gain over seven weeks is the strongest such streak in almost 11 years, with the measure above its 2017 average of 49.3. Labor-market progress is one big reason for Americans’ positive moods, along with stock-market gains and home-price appreciation. Last week’s improvement spanned homeowners, college-educated people and Americans near the top and bottom of the income ladder. The results are encouraging for consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

At the same time, politics continues to divide people. Confidence advanced among Republicans and fell among Democrats to bring the partisan gap to 22.4 points, the widest favoring Republicans since 2008, when the GOP’s George W. Bush was president. Optimism among political independents is the highest since February 2001.

Other Details

  • Sentiment index among unemployed Americans rose to 44.5, highest since July 2007
  • Confidence among people making at least $100,000 a year jumped to 81.1, strongest in records since June 2004
  • Index for those who earn less than $50,000 rose to 37.9, the strongest in available data back to December 2010 
  • Sentiment rose in two of four regions last week, including Midwest and South
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