WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' confidence in the economy improved last week after slipping in late July and early August. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index rose to -10 in the week ending Aug. 11 from the previous week's -14 -- the worst confidence rating since mid-April. The increase in consumers' confidence this week is the largest one-week jump since mid-May.
Overall, Americans' confidence in the economy is higher in 2013 compared with 2012. The Economic Confidence Index has averaged -12 for all of 2013 versus -21 for all of 2012. Improvements in job creation, home values, and stock prices are likely contributors. Despite the improvement, consumers remain more negative than positive about the U.S. economy on an absolute basis, although their confidence has gradually improved since the recession in 2008-2009; during that two-year span, Gallup's Economic Confidence Index averaged -42.
Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is based on Americans' ratings of current economic conditions in the U.S. and their assessments of whether the economy is getting better or worse. Last week's Economic Confidence Index showed similar changes in both components of the index.
Americans' net economic outlook score was -7 last week, which was four points higher than the prior week's score of -11. The current score represents 44% who said the economy is getting better and 51% who said it is getting worse.
In late May and early June, Americans' economic outlook score entered positive territory for the first time in Gallup Daily tracking, which began in January 2008. Despite the uptick last week, Americans' economic outlook has generally worsened since its peak in June. This could be related to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' July hiring numbers' being below Wall Street's expectations. The most recent BLS job report showed a rise of 162,000 payroll jobs in July, but this number fell short of many economists' expectations of around 185,000.
Americans' net current conditions score was -12 last week, compared with -16 the prior week. The current score represents 20% of Americans who said the economy was "excellent" or "good," while 32% said it was "poor."
Although the U.S. economy has shown signs of recovery since the 2008-2009 recession, Americans are still more negative than positive in their assessments of current economic conditions and the direction of the U.S. economy. While the stock and housing markets have performed well in 2013, this has not been enough to push Gallup's Economic Index into positive territory.
While payroll jobs are increasing, the unemployment rate remains high on an absolute basis and economic growth remains sluggish. BLS also reported that, compared with July 2012, there was an increase in the number of discouraged workers who dropped out of the job search last month.
Given these economic realities, it is unlikely that the Economic Confidence Index will enter positive territory until job market growth starts consistently meeting or exceeding Americans' expectations.
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 for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 5-11, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 3,544 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 ±3 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 and cell telephone 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, and cellphone mostly). 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.