WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' confidence in the economy has returned to pre-shutdown levels. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index averaged -14 last week and -13 the week prior, significantly improved from the mid-October low of -39.
The index experienced a significant swing last week, averaging -11 Monday through Wednesday and -18 Friday through Sunday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' weak jobs report could explain the late-week downswing. The BLS employment report showed that the U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, the smallest number since the start of 2011.
Overall, last week's index score of -14 is 13 points better than the fourth quarter 2013 average, equal to the third quarter average, and two points higher than the average for all of 2013.
Assessments of Current Conditions and Outlook Hold Steady
Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is based on two components: Americans' assessments of current economic conditions in the U.S. and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or worse.
Last week's net current conditions score was -17, similar to the prior week's -18. Last week's score represents 18% of Americans saying the economy is "excellent" or "good," while 35% said it is "poor." The current conditions score got slightly worse after Friday's jobs report, falling from -16 in Monday to Wednesday interviewing to -20 in Friday to Sunday interviewing.
On a weekly basis, Americans' assessments of the current economic situation have improved 15 points since mid-October and are now seven points higher than the overall fourth quarter 2013 average.
Americans' net economic outlook score was -10 last week, on par with -8 the prior week. The current score represents 42% who said the economy is getting better and 52% who said it is getting worse. The outlook score fell nearly 10 points after Friday's jobs report, to -15 from -6 earlier in the week.
Americans' outlook has improved by 36 points since mid-October and now exceeds the fourth quarter 2013 average by 19 points.
Although economic confidence remains in negative territory, Americans' attitudes have clearly improved since the mid-October lows during the government shutdown. Looking at 2013 year-end results, there have also been strides in confidence since 2012. The index averaged -16 in 2013, a five-point improvement from the 2012 average.
There were many positive signs in 2013, indicated by both key traditional measures as well as Gallup's consumer-based measurements. GDP growth increased as the year went on, the BLS unemployment rate declined, the stock market had a record year, and low interest rates boosted demand for housing. Gallup's consumer spending metric jumped to $88 per day in 2013, a $16 increase over 2012, and its Job Creation Index showed a two-point improvement in net hiring.
This positive momentum halted with the December jobs report, released last Friday. The -10 Economic Confidence Index score from last Sunday-Tuesday was the best three-day average Gallup had measured since August. It is not clear at this point whether the weekend slide will be a temporary setback or a more lasting drop.
If economic confidence is to have a chance at entering positive territory, it's likely that some, if not all, of the positive economic trends will have to continue. And perhaps most importantly, the federal government needs to avoid an event as damaging to morale as last year's shutdown.
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 Jan. 6-12, 2014, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 3,550 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, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
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 2013 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the January-June 2013 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.