Consumer Confidence is Back. What About the Rest of Us?

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In these pandemic-altered times, we can generally break down time into two parts: pre-pandemic and post-pandemic.

Pre-pandemic is usually the bar that economic news is judged again, because things were generally going OK financially before March 2020. Covid changed all that for millions, but the fact remains that late 2019 and early 2020 are the bar we’re shooting for with a lot of this.

And the good news is that consumer confidence is almost back where we started 16+ months ago.

By the numbers: 

Consumer confidence continued to rise in July and is now nearing pre-pandemic levels amid a boost in economic activity following loosened coronavirus restrictions. 

According to the Conference Board’s monthly survey, the Confidence Index rose slightly from 128.9 in June to 129.1 this month. Not huge, but it beat expectations of a drop and actually got us back to pre-pandemic levels thanks to the jolt of economic activity that came along with loosened Covid restrictions. The group’s Present Situation Index, which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, rose from 159.6 to 160.3.

Short-term expectations that income, business and labor markets would improve has held steady since the spring.

We’re happy, we’re just not too sold that this is going to last.

Quote: “Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting economic growth in Q3 is off to a strong start. Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook didn’t waver, and they continued to expect that business conditions, jobs, and personal financial prospects will improve. Spending intentions picked up in July, with a larger percentage of consumers saying they planned to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances in the coming months. Thus, consumer spending should continue to support robust economic growth in the second half of 2021.” — Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

My take: What’s not to like? In a world where sentiment drives more economic progress than many of us would like to admit, we’re in a good place. People are getting back out and participating in the economy again. Maybe this is a short-term blip, but at least it’s a step in the right direction and, after what we all experienced in 2020, that’s something to be happy about.

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