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Americans' Economic Expectations Reach Second-Highest Since 2002

Americans’ outlook for the U.S. economy improved in February to the second-highest level since March 2002, indicating lower taxes are resonating, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Wednesday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Feb. 18)

  • Monthly gauge of economic expectations climbed to 54.5 from 52.5 in January
  • Weekly comfort index was little changed at 56.6 after 57
  • Measure tracking current views of the economy rose to 61.7, the highest level since February 2001, from 61 
  • Personal finances gauge fell to 60.4 from 61.5; buying climate index declined to 47.8 from 48.6

Key Takeaways

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said the national economy is getting better, the biggest share since March 2002. The improvement comes as Americans have begun to see the effects of the tax cuts in their paychecks.

A robust labor market and wage gains are keeping weekly consumer comfort levels near 17-year highs, indicating the tumble in the stock market earlier this month did little to damp spirits.

Other Details

  • Sentiment among Democrats rose to a 12-month high, while a gauge of comfort among Republicans was unchanged
  • 64 percent of Republicans said economy getting better, compared with 18 percent of Democrats
  • Increased optimism about the economy’s prospects was paced by Americans earning more than $50,000 a year, men, full-time workers and homeowners
  • Sentiment among consumers in the Midwest was highest in 17 years
  • Report is typically released Thursday at 9:45 a.m. New York time; latest figures were inadvertently posted early on Bloomberg terminal
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