Oct 19, 2020 - Economy & Business

Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervous

Data: The Conference Board, University of Michigan; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: The Conference Board, University of Michigan; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumer confidence continues to improve but remains well below the levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic despite the rebound in housing and equity markets, surveys show.

Driving the news: The University of Michigan released its latest consumer sentiment index Friday showing an overall small improvement that was the result of increasing optimism about the future and pessimism about the present.

What they're saying: "The Current Conditions Index recorded its second small reversal, the first being in June, but even at its best, it has never come close to its December peak, being still down by 26.5%," the survey's analysts said in a release.

  • "The Expectations Index, despite the recent gain, is still down by 14.4% from its February peak."

The state of play: Hamilton Place and CivicScience's Economic Sentiment Index found a similar divergence in consumers' attitudes about the economy in its latest survey.

  • Respondents showed notable improvement in feelings about their personal finances, confidence in making a major purchase and confidence in the housing market.
  • However, confidence in the overall U.S. economy declined, and confidence in finding a new job dropped as well. It was the first time either metric has been lower than the previous survey since July.
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