economic indicators

Confidence little changed amid improving views on U.S. economy

CONSUMER SENTIMENT hovered near a five-year high last week as U.S. residents said the country's economy was improving and their finances were on the mend.
Posted 5/30/13

WASHINGTON – Consumer sentiment last week hovered near a five-year high as more Americans said the economy was improving and their finances were mending.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was at minus 29.7 in the period ended May 26 compared with minus 29.4 a week earlier. The margin of error for the figure is 3 percentage points. Views on the current state of the economy matched a mid-April reading as the strongest since January 2008.

Rising home and stock values are helping bolster confidence among upper-income households as they recover losses suffered during the recession. Nonetheless, the total index has shown little forward momentum since reaching a five-year high of minus 28.9 in April, indicating those of less means are susceptible to setbacks should employment cool or gasoline costs rise.

“Sustained improvement in employment, gasoline prices and equities, which has created a modest wealth effect among consumers at the upper end of the income spectrum, has continued to support consumer confidence,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. “Overall sentiment may stall near these levels without a commensurate increase in wages and salaries down the income ladder.”

Sentiment for households earning between $75,000 and $100,000 annually reached a five-year high, climbing last week to within a point of the reading for those making even more.

Other reports over the past two weeks have corroborated last month’s pickup in comfort. The Conference Board’s confidence index rose in May to the highest level since February 2008, while the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan sentiment gauge reached an almost six-year high this month.

Housing rebound

The rebound in housing is one reason for the brightening moods. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities increased 10.9 percent in the year to March, the biggest 12-month gain since April 2006, a report showed this week.

The economy expanded less than previously estimated in the first quarter as slower inventory building and cutbacks in government spending overshadowed the biggest gain in consumer purchases since the end of 2010, figures from the Commerce Department showed today.

Gross domestic product rose at a 2.4 percent annualized rate, revised from the 2.5 percent pace initially reported. Household purchases climbed at a 3.4 percent pace, almost twice as fast as the prior quarter’s 1.8 percent gain.

Another report today showed more Americans filed claims for unemployment insurance payments last week as holiday closures kept five states from completing a full count. Applications for jobless benefits increased by 10,000 to 354,000 in the week ended May 25, the Labor Department said.

Next Page
PBN Hosted

Join PBN for the best networking event and party of the winter - January 15, 2015 - the Book of Lists Party at the Providence Public Library. Reserve your spot by December 31st and get a holiday gift from PBN!
  • Best Places to Work
    Enrollment is now open for the 7th annual Best Places to Work program. Winners w ...
  • Manufacturing Awards
    Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual Manufacturing Awards. Dea ...
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
    Latest News