Following a dip to a year-to-date low of -22 in early March, Gallup's weekly U.S. Economic Confidence Index has risen to match a five-year high posted in February of -8. The prior week's index reading came in at -13.
For the month of April, the index reading also came in at -13, again a record high that it shares with November 2012 and the first two months of this year. The March 2013 reading was -16.
For upper-income Americans (earning more than $90,000 annually), the April index broke out of negative numbers for the first time ever, posting a reading of zero. Among middle- and low-income Americans, the monthly reading for April was -16, somewhat better than the -18 reading in March, but worse than the -12 reading from last November.
Gallup attributes the increase in confidence to record high stock prices and the generally good news on the jobs front. Rising home prices, increased consumer spending and lack of concern over the effects of the federal sequester also contributed to rising confidence in the U.S. economy.
Although Gallup does not say so, the sharp drop in gasoline prices since early March are also a likely contributor to a rosier view of the American economy. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, the average retail price for gasoline in the final week of February was $3.851 a gallon. At the end of the first week in May, the price had fallen to $3.602.
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Economy, Research