Economy Watch: Consumers Still Optimistic About U.S. Economy

During the first nine months of 2017, the University of Michigan's sentiment index averaged 96.2, ahead of the 2016 and 2015 averages, making this year the highest recorded average since 2000.

shopping_bagsConsumer sentiment edged down in September, according to the University of Michigan’s latest survey. The university’s Index of Consumer Sentiment came in at 95.1 at the end of September, compared with 96.8 at the end of August.

Even so, sentiment remains fairly high, as has been the case all year. During the first nine months of 2017, the Sentiment Index averaged 96.2, just ahead of averages of 91.9 and 92.9 recorded in the prior two years, making 2017’s average the highest recorded since 2000.

“The resilience of consumers has been demonstrated as concerns about the impact of the hurricanes on the national economy have quickly faded,” writes Surveys of Consumers Chief Economist Richard Curtin. “In the past year, there has been a long list of issues that could have derailed the overall level of consumer confidence… Confidence has nonetheless remained very favorable, moving sideward in a very narrow positive range.”

Separately, but certainly related to how consumers feel about the economy, U.S. personal income increased $28.6 billion (0.2 percent) in August, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Disposable personal income increased $14.9 billion (0.1 percent) and personal consumption expenditures increased $18 billion (0.1 percent).