U.S. consumers are more upbeat about the economy right now than they have been at any time since May, according to the latest survey from Gallup. The economic confidence index for the week ending last Saturday is -17, up from -19 the week before and just above the -16 reading from May. Gallup noted that this is the first survey to include a full week of results following the positive jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the beginning of October.
Gallup measures both confidence in current conditions and in the economic outlook. In the current conditions subindex, the reading for last week was -23, the best since June. In the economic outlook subindex, the reading was -10, the same as in mid-September and just below a reading of -8 in mid-March.
The percentage of Americans who think that current conditions are "excellent" or "good" is just 17%, compared with 40% who think conditions are "poor." The percentage who believe the economic outlook is "getting better" is 43%, compared with 53% who think the economy is "getting worse."
Gallup notes that the improvement in overall confidence has come almost exclusively from Democrats and independents, and both groups were slightly more positive about the economy last week. Republicans continue to be as negative on the economy as before.
[I]t is important to recognize that the current improvement in economic confidence is inextricably related to the current political climate. This will likely continue to be the case until Election Day and into the coming year, as presidential transitions tend to make the winning party more optimistic about national conditions and the losing party more pessimistic. Nonetheless, the measurable improvement in economic confidence in the final weeks leading up to the election -- combined with higher satisfaction with the way things are going in the country -- is good news for those making the case that the economy is improving and that the nation is on the right track.