Women examine clothing in the Banana Republic store at the Premium Outlet Mall in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, U.S. (Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg)

U.S. Consumer Comfort Rises to Second-Highest Level Since 2001

(Bloomberg) -- Americans’ sentiment rose last week to the second-highest level since 2001, as the benefits of increased take-home pay from tax cuts outweighed concerns about stock-market volatility, according to the weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index released Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended March 4)

  • Weekly index at 56.8 after 56.2
  • Personal finances gauge rose to 62, highest since May
  • Measure tracking current views of the economy at 60.1 after 59.7
  • Index of buying climate was unchanged at 48.4

Key Takeaways

Americans have become increasingly upbeat about their personal finances after last year’s tax cuts began boosting take-home pay in January and February. Full-time workers, married Americans and homeowners all expressed improved optimism, even as President Donald Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on imported metals dented stock prices.

At the same time, the income gap in consumer sentiment expanded. Sentiment among Americans making more than $50,000 rose to the highest level since early 2001, while the confidence of those earning less than $15,000 dropped to a five-month low.

Other Details

  • Younger adults drove the gain in the personal finances gauge over the past two weeks
  • Among the four U.S. regions, sentiment was lower last week only in the Midwest
  • The comfort gauge for women rose above 50 for the first time since March 2017; index for men rose to 64 from 62.9

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