Economic Confidence: Americans Expect Worse to Come



Economic confidence in the United States continued to decline in August, according to Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index. The index averaged -13 in August, down from -12 in July, indicating once again that Americans remain more negative than positive about overall economic conditions.

Gallup began tracking consumer confidence daily in 2008, as the financial crisis was reaching its climax. The first reading was -32, well below the breakeven level at 0. From there, economic confidence hit record low of -60 shortly before the end of 2009, before stabilizing in a range between -21 and -35 for about two years. Confidence soured again in mid-2011, hitting a low of -52, but quickly stabilized to its previous, only modestly pessimistic range.

In May, buoyed by a string of relatively positive economic indicators and a slowly but consistently healing labor market, the index hit a high of -7. Economists were quick to cite this and similar consumer confidence readings from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers and the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey as a reason for optimism about the recovery.