Bloomberg by the Numbers: -28.4

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

A salesman assists a customer at the GEARYS Rodeo Drive Rolex Group store in Beverly Hills on Dec. 9, 2013.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 28.4 in the week ended Jan. 5.

The index, which asks Americans to rate the national economy, the buying climate and their personal finances, improved from minus 28.7.

“Growing employment opportunities, higher stock prices and less political brinksmanship in Washington are helping brighten consumers’ views,” Bloomberg’s Jeanna Smialek reported. “Job gains leading to stronger wage growth would provide a further boost and encourage Americans to increase their spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy.”

The index, which can range from 100 to minus 100, opened at its highest level at a new year since 2008, according to a written analysis by Langer Research Associates, which produces the index for Bloomberg. That was the year the economy experienced the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.

The gauge is still “well short of its pre-downturn levels – results that show both how far consumer sentiment has progressed, and how far it has yet to go,” according to the Langer analysis.

The index is strongest among people earning $100,000 and weakest among the poorest Americans as a divided Congress seeks a way to extend emergency unemployment benefits that ran out Dec. 28 for 1.3 million Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, yesterday “offered a Democratic plan to revive expanded U.S. jobless benefits through mid-November that he said meets Republicans’ demand that the price tag would be covered by budget reductions,” Bloomberg’s Kathleen Hunter reported.

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