WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' confidence in the economy continued to improve last week as the U.S. stock market hit all-time highs before slipping on Friday. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index rose to -14 -- the highest since the -13 reading for the week ending Feb. 24, before the budget sequestration cuts took effect on March 1. With last week's score -- up from -17 the prior week -- confidence is inching closer to the weekly five-year high of -8 reached in early February.
Americans' economic confidence declined toward the end of last week, perhaps partially reflecting consumers' reaction to the U.S. stock market's slipping modestly on Friday, ending the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 10-day winning streak. Gallup Daily tracking three-day rolling averages show economic confidence falling to -18 at the end of last week from -11 at the beginning of the week. Still, all of the three-day averages recorded last week are more positive than the -27 recorded at the beginning of the prior week, after Congress and the president failed to reach an agreement to avoid the automatic budget cuts.
Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is based on Americans' ratings of current economic conditions in the United States as well as their assessments of whether the economy is getting better or worse.
Most of the gain in the weekly Economic Confidence Index score came from an improvement in Americans' economic outlook. Americans' net outlook ratings increased to -11 from -15 the prior week and from -24 three weeks ago. The latest reading reflects 43% of Americans saying the economy is getting better and 54% saying it is getting worse.
Meanwhile, Americans' assessments of current economic conditions held steady. Gallup Daily tracking finds 19% of Americans rating current U.S. economic conditions as excellent or good, and 36% saying they are poor. The net current conditions score of -17 is on par with the -18 from the prior week.
Americans' economic confidence has almost completely recovered to where it was prior to the budget sequestration debate, though it remains below the recent highs in confidence registered in early February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average's 10 consecutive days of gains, the longest streak since 1996, likely contributed to the improvement last week in Americans' economic outlook.
Still, the decline in Gallup's three-day rolling averages at the end of last week -- coinciding with a modest decline in the U.S. stock market -- suggests that the improvement in Americans' economic confidence may be short-lived. Americans' confidence may again be shaken as the budget deadline to avert a government shutdown approaches on March 27.
Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking March 11-17, 2013, with a random sample of 3,583 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.