WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' confidence in the economy stalled last week after improving for five consecutive weeks. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index slipped two points to -26, but remains more positive than the -39 found during the recent government shutdown. Still, weekly confidence is significantly below the -15 mark measured leading up to the shutdown, as well as the nearly six-year high of -3 found in early June.
Americans' confidence in the economy almost entered positive territory in early June, but the momentum was short-lived. The index slowly fell throughout the summer months. It saw several weeks of steeper declines leading up to the government shutdown on Oct. 1, and fell 12 points during the first week of it -- the sharpest drop since Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008. Before the shutdown ended, confidence had declined to -39.
Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is based on Americans' assessments of current economic conditions in the U.S. and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or worse.
Americans' net economic outlook score was -28 last week, down from -26 the prior week. The current score represents 34% who said the economy is getting better and 62% who said it is getting worse. The public's perception of future economic conditions is better than the -46 measured during the shutdown, but has a long way to go to reach the -11 from mid-September.
Last week's net current conditions score was -23, similar to the -22 of the prior week. The current score represents 15% of Americans who say the economy is "excellent" or "good," and 38% who say it is "poor." Americans' assessments of the current economic situation have substantially improved since mid-October, but are still slightly below pre-shutdown levels.
Americans' confidence in the economy faltered last week after slowly but steadily rising since mid-October, when the partial government shutdown ended. It is unclear whether this slight drop represents a reversal in the trend or a temporary pause on an upward trajectory toward improved confidence.
However, the lack of continued improvement is notable against a backdrop of almost daily new record-high U.S. stock prices and fewer-than-expected new filings for unemployment benefits. At the same time, however, the unemployment rate has not improved much over the past few months and the housing market is showing signs of slowing down as mortgage rates rise.
To the extent that economic confidence affects Americans' spending, a further drop could be a sign of trouble for holiday spending and U.S. retailers.
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 Nov. 18-24, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 3,055 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.