Consumer Comfort Hovers Near Highest Level in 17 Years
Americans’ sentiment remained close to a 17-year high on rosier views of personal finances and the buying climate, as workers enjoy more take-home pay after the recent tax-cut legislation, according to the weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index released March 1.
Highlights of Consumer Comfort for the Week Ended Feb. 25
• Weekly index eased to 56.2 from 56.6.
• Personal finances gauge was little changed at 60.6 after 60.4.
• Index of buying climate increased to 48.4 from 47.8.
• Measure tracking current views of the economy dropped to 59.7 from 61.7, its largest one-week decline since October.
Robust sentiment last week was driven by a pickup in optimism among middle- and upper-income Americans. Comfort among those earning $50,000 or more annually reached a 17-year high last week.
At the same time, confidence declined among people earning less than $50,000, highlighting disparities in comfort levels among different income groups. Sustained optimism and lower taxes have the potential of boosting consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy.
• Comfort among Americans with a college education reached the highest reading since March 2001.
• Married Americans reported their highest comfort level since December 2000.
• Among the four U.S. regions, sentiment was higher last week only in the South.