Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

U.S. Consumer Comfort Eases After Seven Straight Weekly Gains

Americans’ confidence eased from a 16-year high last week, though relatively high optimism should continue to support spending, according to Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures released Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Sept. 3)

  • Consumer comfort measure fell to 52.6 from 53.3, first decline in eight weeks
  • Gauge of views on the economy declined to 53.9 from 54.4
  • Index of personal finances improved to 59.9, highest since early June, from 59.3
  • Index of buying climate declined to 44.1, a five-week low, from 46.1

Key Takeaways

Even with the decline, sentiment has been strong in 2017, with the best yearly average since 2001. That indicates consumer spending -- which accounts for 70 percent of the economy -- is likely to remain steady. Most of last week’s drop came from worsening views on the buying climate, which may be the result of rising gasoline prices after Hurricane Harvey inundated Houston and other parts of the Gulf Coast. Views continued to diverge along political lines, with the partisan gap favoring Republicans over Democrats by 24.6 points, the biggest difference since the final months of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Other Details

  • Comfort index fell in the Midwest and Northeast; rose in the West
  • Measure dropped to five-week low for those with a high school degree or less, while it rose slightly to a 16-year high among college-educated Americans
  • Sentiment among part-time workers rose to a five-week high of 49.9, while it fell among full-time workers and the unemployed
  • Comfort declined for respondents age 35 and older, rose among younger people
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