May 4, 2017 9:50 AM, EDT

American Consumer Comfort Remains Close to a 15-Year High

Steven Guzzardi/Flickr

Consumer confidence last week held close to the highest level in more than 15 years as Americans felt a little better about their finances and whether it’s a good time to spend, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index data showed May 4.


Key Points


• Weekly comfort measure little changed at 50.9 in the week ended April 30, close to 51.3 reached in March that was the strongest since August 2001, after 50.8 the prior week.


• Buying-climate gauge jumped to a five-week high of 44.4 from 43.


• Measure of personal finances edged up to 59.9 from 59.7.


• Sentiment about national economy declined to 48.3 from 49.6 in the prior week that was the strongest since 2001.


Big Picture


Steady hiring, along with layoffs that are near the fewest in decades, are keeping households upbeat about their financial situation. Rising stock and home prices are also behind the optimism, with homeowners feeling especially positive in the latest survey.


Burgeoning wage growth also should help convince more consumers to put their wallets to work as the U.S. economy recovers from its now-typical first-quarter slump.


At the same time, political loyalties remain a dividing line for the readings even as sentiment among both major parties improved last week, with Republican comfort at its strongest since 2007 and Democrats the most buoyant since February.


Other Details


• Sentiment among homeowners rose to 59.2, the highest level since February 2001.


• Consumers with some college education or more were more optimistic than at any time since August 2001.


• Confidence increased in the West and Midwest while it declined in the Northeast and in the South, where it reached a nine-week low.


• Americans 65 years and older and those earning $50,000 or more a year were most upbeat since early 2001.