Americans were slightly more confident in the economy in March than they were in February; however, their confidence has not drastically changed in the past nine months. Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index averaged minus 10 in March, up slightly from minus 13 in February and on the high end of the minus 10 to minus 14 range found since July. Overall, Americans' economic confidence is much higher than it was during the recession and immediate post-recession years, but it remains down from recent high points measured in early 2015.
In March, the current conditions score improved to minus 3 from minus 5 the previous month. This was the result of 26 percent of Americans rating current economic conditions in the U.S. as "excellent" or "good," and 29 percent rating them as "poor." Americans continue to view current economic conditions more favorably than their outlook of the economy, as they have since March 2015. In the most recent polling, 39 percent of Americans said the economy was "getting better," while 56 percent said it was "getting worse." This resulted in an economic outlook score of minus 17, up from minus 20 in February.
Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is a composite of two questions that Gallup asks daily of a nationally representative sample of 500 adults, aged 18 and older, and reports weekly based on approximately 3,500 interviews. One question asks Americans to evaluate current economic conditions; the other measures their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or getting worse. The two questions have equal weight in the index, and are reported without revisions or seasonal adjustments. They can also be analyzed separately, providing insight into changes in the overall index. The survey is conducted with respondents contacted on landlines and cellphones.
In today's fast-moving, information-loaded environment, consumer attitudes can, and often do, change multiple times between the beginning and the middle or end of a month, and the Gallup index keeps up with these fluctuations. Followers of the metric therefore develop a keen understanding of the degree to which various economic and political events -- including monthly BLS jobs reports, major changes in the stock market, and significant congressional budget actions -- affect consumer attitudes.
Investors are highly sensitive to consumers' mindset as a potential leading indicator of consumer spending behavior. The Gallup index provides a timely reading of consumer attitudes, facilitating precise evaluations of consumers' mood and the drivers of consumer attitudes. The index gives investors a valuable tool to help predict what the other indexes will report each month, which in turn can help investors anticipate any major stock market reactions.
Econoday reports monthly data. Gallup reports results of the ECI on Gallup.com on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index has a possible maximum of plus 100 (reached if all Americans rate current economic conditions as excellent or good, and all Americans say the economy is getting better) and a possible minimum of minus 100 (reached if all rate the current economy as poor, and say the economy is getting worse). The zero midpoint indicates either neutral or mixed attitudes about the economy. Gallup has asked the component questions periodically since 1992, monthly since October 2000, and daily since January 2008. Since 1992, the index has ranged from a high of plus 56 in January 2000, coincident with a period of robust U.S. economic performance and a balanced federal budget, to a low of minus 65 in October 2008, during the global financial crisis.
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