U.S. economic confidence improved sharply to -18 in the week ending March 11 from -25 the prior week — the highest since the week ending Feb. 13, 2011, when it was also -18. The -18 readings this year and last are the highest weekly levels Gallup has recorded since it started tracking confidence daily in January 2008.
Americans’ economic confidence had declined recently from -20 in the week ending Feb. 12 to -25 for the week ending March 4. This brief deterioration in confidence may have been, at least in part, a response to increasing gas prices at the pump. However, the government’s positive unemployment report out last Friday appears to have given economic confidence another boost, as seemed to be the case following January’s unemployment report.
Gallup Daily tracking reveals that Americans’ confidence in the economy increased Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after the government report came out.
Read the entire report over at Gallup.
I am feeling better economic conditions in California although unemployment is unreasonably high and the state of California has massive budget deficits. I would say economic conditions are fluid and with rising fuel prices, there are unknowns on the horizon.
If I were President Obama, I would be leery of improving conditions to help in his re-election effort. And, if I were a GOP challenger, I would not be confident that a deteriorating economy would propel you into office.
It is important to note that Americans’ confidence in the economy was similar last year around this time. However, Americans’ hope for improvement in the overall economy during the months that followed the momentary surge in confidence early last year did not materialize. In fact, by last summer, the economy appeared to be near another downturn as politicians in the nation’s capital did battle over raising the federal debt ceiling.
It appears economic confidence is at another possible turning point, with gas prices on a pace to reach record highs in the summer. Further, it is not clear if the government can continue to report more good jobs news given modest economic growth.
For now though, it appears that higher gas prices have not been enough to keep Americans’ economic confidence from matching its highest weekly level in four years. However, if job increases slow, gas prices may quickly be perceived as an even more important threat, not only to Americans’ economic confidence, but also to the overall economy in the months ahead.