September Consumer Sentiment Soars on Jobs, Pay Increases

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The preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for September jumped 4.8% to a reading of 100.8 after posting a final reading of 96.2 in August. The preliminary reading is 6% higher than the preliminary index reading of 95.1 in September of 2017.

The September index and subindex readings came in higher in every case when compared to August of last year. The preliminary August reading represents the second-highest reading since March of 2004. U.S. consumers have been buoyed lately by abundant jobs and rising wages.

Economists polled by Bloomberg were expecting a preliminary September reading of 97.

The month-over-month consumer expectations subindex rose 4.6% to 91.1, and the current conditions subindex rose from 110.3 to 116.1. (up 5.3%).

Year over year, the current conditions subindex is up 3.9% and the consumer expectations subindex is up 7.9%.

The survey’s chief economist, Richard Curtin, said:

Consumer sentiment posted a robust rise in early September, reaching 100.8, the second highest level since 2004-only behind the March 2018 reading of 101.4. Importantly, the gains were widespread across all major socioeconomic subgroups. The Expectations Index reached its highest level since July 2004, largely due to more favorable prospects for jobs and incomes. Despite a lessening of expected gains in nominal incomes in September, inflation expectations also declined, acting to offset concerns about declining living standards. Consumers anticipated continued growth in the economy that would produce more jobs and an even lower unemployment rate during the year ahead. While consumers were somewhat more likely to anticipate that the economic expansion would continue uninterrupted over the next five years, nearly as many expected another downturn sometime in the next five years. The largest problem cited on the economic horizon involved the anticipated negative impact from tariffs. Concerns about the negative impact of tariffs on the domestic economy were spontaneously mentioned by nearly one-third of all consumers in the past three months, up from one-in-five in the prior four months.