Year over year, optimism in the economy has fallen. In our results from January of last year, nearly twice as many people (42% vs. 23%) said the economy was better off then than it was the year prior. Today, that 19 percentage point gap has narrowed to just seven, with 38% of people saying the economy is better off and 31% saying it is worse off.
The consumer confidence index also got a glum start to 2019, with the index value dropping two points to a score of 57, its lowest point since December 2017. Year over year, the confidence index slid three points down.
With gains among men and women, Republicans and Democrats, old and young, consumer confidence reached a new high of 62 this month.
Four of the five index components also reached new high marks this month:
- 54 percent of people expect the country to experience continuous good times economically in the next five years
- 46 percent expect business conditions to be good in the next year
- 44 percent expect themselves to be better off financially a year from now
- 38 percent are better off now than they were a year ago
Consumer confidence again ticked up to 60 this month, making September the fifth month this year it’s hit that record high.
Three of the five index components are also at or exceeding their previous high marks:
- 38 percent of people say now is a good time to make big purchases, topping the previous high of 37 percent from July of this year
- 43 percent of people expect business conditions to be good nationwide in the next year, matching the high only seen before in January
- 36 percent of people say they are better off now than they were a year ago, matching the high only seen previously in June
Consumer confidence notches back up to 59 this month, with only small changes among all index components. Opinions on tariffs and the tax law are stable as well.
Few people separate their own financial situations from those of the country as a whole. More than seven in 10 people (71 percent) who expect to be better off financially a year from now say that business conditions for the country will also fare well in the next 12 months. Nearly as many (63 percent) of those who expect to be in worse shape financially a year from now say that business conditions will be worse, too.
Consumer confidence among Republicans matches its highest-ever value of 82 (previously seen in February), while confidence among Democrats matches its lowest-ever value of 39 (previously seen in December). This is the widest partisan gap in confidence we have yet seen. Overall, our July consumer confidence value falls back to its April level of 58.
Consumer confidence returns to its previous high of 60 in June, meaning four of the first six months this year are now tied for the all-time high index value.
By a slim margin, Trump beats out former President Obama (36 percent vs. 31 percent) when asked who deserves more credit for the current state of the economy. Republicans rally strongly around President Trump, with 74 percent saying he deserves more credit. Fewer, but still more than half of Democrats (58 percent) say Obama deserves more credit. Independents are more likely to give credit to “neither” (27 percent) or “both” (25 percent).
Consumer confidence nudged up one point to 59 in May, within striking distance of the high score of 60 it held for three consecutive months to start the year.
Year-over-year, the largest bumps in confidence have come among men (from 61 in May 2017 to 65 now) and Republicans (from 75 a year ago to 80 now). The overall index has increased by just two points in the same time period.
After three months unmoved from a high-point of 60, consumer confidence in April dips ever so slightly to an index score of 58, a shift within the margin of error for month-to-month change. Support edged downward by one- to two-point margins across all demographic groups since March. Still, overall confidence remains higher than it was in December.
The public’s expectations about the year ahead continue to be far more positive than negative. This month we have 34 percent of people saying they were better off financially than year ago, 47 percent saying they are the same, and 17 percent saying they are worse off. These numbers are almost identical to what we saw a year ago at this time, suggesting the economy is performing about as well as people have been expecting, which may help explain the stability and net optimism of the index.
Confidence is holding steady for the third straight month to start 2018, with our index value remaining at the 60-point high mark it hit in January. Approval for the tax law stabilized after rising each of the past three months. While still sky-high, approval among Republicans ticked downward from 89 percent in February to 86 percent this month, becoming a slight drag on the overall rating. Approval among independents (no change at 43 percent) and Democrats (19 percent to 18 percent) stayed more stable.
The overall two-percentage point shave in approval for the tax bill did not move to the other side; disapproval remained at 46 percent. More people this month expressed uncertainty.
Consumer confidence is holding steady in the second month of 2018, with our index value remaining at the 60-point high mark it hit in January. Support for the tax law has increased another 5 percent: now a slender majority, 51 percent, approves of Republican-led tax reform; 46 percent disapprove. For the first time, nearly as many strongly approve of the law as are stridently against it (23 percent vs. 25 percent).
Though few Democrats approve of the tax law, their support has increased notably since January (13 percent to 19 percent); support is also up among Republicans (86 percent to 89 percent) and it’s virtually unchanged among independents (42 percent to 43 percent).
Consumer confidence definition
Every month, we asked respondents a battery of five questions relating to their current financial status and future expectations. Those questions are:
- Would you say that you and your family are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?
- Now looking ahead - do you think that a year from now you and your family will be better off financially, worse off financially, or just about the same as now?
- Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole - do you think that during the next 12 months we'll have good or bad times financially?
- Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely to take place in the next five years for the country as a whole:
- Thinking about the big things people buy for their homes - such as furniture, a stove, a television... Generally speaking, do you think now is a good or bad time for people to buy major household items?
Positive responses are assigned a score of 2, middle responses are assigned a score of 1, and negative responses are assigned a score of 0. For each individual, an index score is calculated by summing the values for each question, dividing by 5, and multiplying by 50. This yields a possible index range of 0 to 100.