A new Gallup poll finds that 56 percent of Americans describe their current financial situation as "excellent" or "good," highlighting the strongest first quarter for the U.S. economy since 2015.
This overall positive rating has increased 10 percentage points since 2015 and is currently the highest since 2002, Gallup said.
Likewise, the 57% of Americans who now say their overall financial situation is getting better has risen 10 points since 2016 and is at its highest numerical point since 2002.
Overall, just 25% of Americans say they worry "all" or "most" of the time that their family income will not meet their expenses; 37% worry "some of the time"; and 37% "almost never" worry. The previous reading for this question, in 2008, found 37% worrying at least most of the time.
At the same time, 56% of Americans report that they are currently saving money (19% say "a lot" and 37% "a little"); 26% say they are just making ends meet; and far fewer are drawing on savings (6%) or running into debt (7%).
Not having enough money for retirement and not being able to pay for medical care in the event of a serious illness or accident are the most worrisome of eight financial issues for Americans. Slim majorities, 54% and 51%, respectively, report that they are "very" or "moderately" worried about each of these long-term financial matters in the April poll. Both of the latest readings are at the low end of the historical trend.
Meanwhile, data on Tuesday showed a rebound in April consumer confidence amid growing labor market optimism. While house prices increased at their slowest pace since 2012 in February, slowing house price inflation is stimulating demand for homes, Reuters explained.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to a reading of 129.2 in April from 124.2 in March. That jump strengthened the view that consumer spending will accelerate after growing at its slowest pace in a year in the first quarter.
“The Fed puts more store in consumer confidence as a predictor of consumer spending behavior, and from this perspective the Fed should be reassured that the second quarter looks strong on the consumer spending front,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.
The survey’s so-called labor market differential, derived from data about respondents saying jobs are scarce or plentiful, jumped to 33.5 percent from 28.7 percent in March.
This measure closely correlates to the unemployment rate in the Labor Department’s employment report. The rise in labor market differential together with dwindling numbers of people on unemployment rolls raises the possibility the jobless rate could drop in April from its current level of 3.8 percent. The government will publish its April employment report on Friday.
But consumers’ inflation expectations fell in April. With the labor market continuing to tighten, there is optimism wage growth will pick up a notch this year. There is growing anecdotal evidence of companies struggling to find workers.
In the first quarter, wages and salaries, which account for 70 percent of employment costs, increased 0.7 percent after rising 0.6 percent in the prior period. Wages and salaries were up 2.9 percent in the 12 months through March. That followed a 3.1 percent gain in the year through December.
There were strong wage gains in the manufacturing, construction and transportation industries, but compensation slowed in the professional and business services, education and health services sectors as well as in the leisure and hospitality industry.
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