Economic Confidence: Gallup Survey Against Grain of Consumer Indices

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A shopper organizes his cash at a Best Buy Co. store in Peoria.

There are indicators, and there are indicators.

One of the leading indicators of consumer confidence, the Conference Board, reported today that confidence reached its lowest level in more than a year in January as renewed payroll taxes took a bigger bite out of American paychecks.

The Conference Board’s index decreased to 58.6, its weakest level since November 2011, as Bloomberg’s Jeanna Smialek reports.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index also dropped in the week ended Jan. 20 to the lowest level since early October as Americans’ concerns about the economy mounted, she notes.

Then comes the Gallup organization with a report today that “Americans were more positive about the economy last week than they have been at any time since Gallup began tracking economic confidence daily in January 2008. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index improved to -9, from -13 the prior week and -22 during the last week of December. ”

And this: “The current weekly average spanning Jan. 21-27, 2013, reflects the continuation of an upward climb that has been ongoing throughout January, as major U.S. stock markets have also soared past five-year highs.”

Gallup’s Lymari Morales writes: “Americans’ current views of the U.S. economy clearly indicate a new wave of optimism during the start of 2013. Americans are now more positive about the economy — taking into account current conditions and the outlook for the future — than at any time since the recession and global financial crisis. This likely reflects a combination of factors, including the recent surge in U.S. stock markets, Democrats’ becoming more confident about the economy after the U.S. presidential election, and the lifting of the uncertainty that surrounded the election and the fiscal cliff budget negotiations toward the end of 2012.

Gallup’s survey of 3,546 adults run Jan. 21-27 has a possible margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Gallup, apparently, is talking to happier people.

Which may be of little comfort.

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