Tags: Gallup | confidence | index | economic

Gallup Confidence Index Sits in Negative Territory for 3rd Straight Week

By    |   Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015 11:05 AM

While some analysts voiced optimism about the economy after Friday's February employment report, plenty of regular Americans apparently disagree.

Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index was -3 for the week ended March 8, the third consecutive negative reading after an eight-week streak of positive scores. To be sure, the index is still well above most of its levels since 2008.

The index averages Americans' assessment of current economic conditions and their view as to whether the economy is improving or getting worse.

For the week ended March 8, 26 percent of the 3,556 adults polled said the economy was "excellent" or "good," while 27 percent said it was "poor." This resulted in a current conditions score of -1, basically unchanged from the -2 registered during the two weeks prior.

In addition, 46 percent of those polled said the economy is "getting better" while 50 percent said it is "getting worse," resulting in an economic outlook score of -4. The economic outlook score is down slightly from the -2 of the previous two weeks, and is the lowest in nearly three months.

So what accounts for the recent weak performance?

"The recent slip back into negative territory is likely related to a reversal of the trend in gas prices, after spending on fuel reached a long-term low at the end of January," writes Gallup's Justin McCarthy.

Gas prices have soared 12 percent in the last month to $2.45 a gallon, though they remain a whopping 30 percent below the year-ago price of $3.49.

Meanwhile, "the government's generally positive unemployment report for February does not seem to have moved Americans' economic confidence in a positive direction," McCarthy writes.

The unemployment rate slipped to an almost-seven-year low of 5.5 percent last month. And non-farm payrolls rose 295,000, representing the 12th straight month with a gain of at least 200,000. That's the longest such streak since 1995.

But the news wasn't all good on the jobs front. Average hourly wages rose only 2 percent in the 12 months through February. And the labor participation rate totaled only 62.8 percent last month, barely above the 37-year low 62.7 percent.

The jobs data amount to a mixed bag, says New York Times columnist Neil Irwin. "On one hand, the results on job creation and the unemployment rate were about as good as one might hope for," he writes.

But, "on the other hand, the lack of progress on wages and lack of progress in pulling people into the labor force give plenty of ammunition to those who believe that there remains plenty of slack in the labor market."

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While some analysts voiced optimism about the economy after Friday's February employment report, plenty of regular Americans apparently disagree.
Gallup, confidence, index, economic
Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015 11:05 AM
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