As President Trump and governors like Ron DeSantis and Kristi Noem work to reopen America’s economy, consumers are responding with growing enthusiasm. In the Wall Street Journal, Gwynn Guilford reports on September’s highest increase in the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence in 17 years. Guilford writes:
Consumers are growing more optimistic about the state of the U.S. economy, according to September surveys, as the labor market continued to gradually improve and a summer coronavirus surge receded in parts of the country.
The Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence surged to 101.8 in September, from a revised 86.3 in August. The increase was the biggest since April 2003—reversing two months of decline and bringing the index to its highest level since March, when the coronavirus pandemic thrust the U.S. economy into a recession. This month’s preliminary reading on consumer confidence was based on survey responses collected Sept. 1-18.
Consumer bullishness likely reflected in part consistent improvements in the labor market. The share of respondents in the Conference Board’s index reporting jobs as “plentiful” climbed to 22.9% in September, from 21.4% in August—and compared with just 16.5% in May.
The August unemployment rate plummeted to 8.4%, from 10.2% in July. Economists expect continued, if less dramatic, improvement in September, with those surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expecting a payrolls gain of 800,000 this month, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.2%.
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