WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans were more confident in the economy last week than in any week since Gallup began tracking economic confidence daily in 2008. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index rose to -5 last week from -11 the prior week. The current score exceeds the previous weekly high of -8 reached two weeks ago and in early February.
Americans' confidence in the economy has been stronger this year than in recent years as U.S. stock prices hit record highs and unemployment in April declined to its lowest level since December 2008. Additionally, home prices have been higher and gas prices have generally been lower than they were last year, which likely boosted economic confidence.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index was -22 in the first week of the year as Congress and the president reached a deal to resolve the fiscal cliff, and it steadily improved to -8 in the week ending Feb. 3. The Index fell sharply in the first week of March to -22 as leaders in Washington failed to reach an agreement to avoid budget sequestration cuts, but has generally trended upward in most weeks since early March.
Gallup's Economic Confidence Index has a theoretical minimum of -100 and a theoretical maximum of +100. The 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.
The index has never been positive since Gallup began Daily tracking of economic confidence in January 2008. Gallup asked the same questions in periodic surveys prior to 2008, though methodological differences between the tracking and nontracking surveys make precise comparisons of the results from each difficult. Nevertheless, in a broad sense, Americans haven't been on balance positive toward the economy since late 2006/early 2007.
Americans' Net Economic Outlook Positive for First Time Since Gallup Daily Tracking Began
Americans' weekly perceptions of the economy's direction are more positive than negative for the first time since Gallup began tracking economic confidence daily. Forty-nine percent of Americans now say the economy is getting better and 47% say it is getting worse, for a net economic outlook rating of 2. The current net rating is up from -6 the prior week and the previous weekly high of -1 during the week ending Nov. 4, 2012.
Americans' assessments of current economic conditions remain more negative than positive, with 20% saying current economic conditions are excellent or good and 32% saying they are poor. The -12 net current conditions rating recorded last week is one of the best ratings since early 2008.
While the end of the payroll tax holiday and budget sequestration spending cuts threatened to cause a decline in Americans' confidence in the economy earlier this year, improvements in the U.S. stock and housing markets have seemingly compensated for this. The Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate also fell to a four-year low of 7.5% in April, which may have contributed to the overall improvement in economic confidence thus far in May.
Americans were more confident in the economy last week than they have been since the economic recession, and were more optimistic than pessimistic about the economy's direction for the first time since Gallup began daily tracking in 2008. The Economic Confidence Index is inching closer to positive territory -- something it has not seen in at least six years.
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:
Read more about Gallup's economic measures.
View our economic release schedule.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 13-19, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 3,558 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. Cellphone 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.