CNBC: Consumer Confidence Hits 18-Year High Thanks to Jobs, Wages

With one week to the midterm elections, the Conference Board released its latest survey of consumers showing their confidence soared to an 18-year high and also found high expectations for early 2019. This might well surprise many news consumers given how little effort the media have spent reporting on the good economy.

The Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence rose to 137.9 in October, the highest since September 2000. The index was 135.3 in September.

The CEO of the Conference Board told CNBC not only is there current optimism, but also expectations “as far as they can see, the next six months, all of it looks positive.”

CNBC’s Power Lunch wanted to know “will the optimism” last, as they interviewed Conference Board president and CEO Steve Odland on Oct. 30. Co-anchor Melissa Lee also asked what the high level of confidence means.

“Well, this is the highest level, as you said, since the fall of 2000 and consumers are focus on what’s impacting them. The jobs market is very strong. Wages are moving again and they’re feeling like they’ve got money to spend,” Odland replied. “More importantly when you look at the consumer expectations index they continue to think that this will go on through the first quarter of 2019.”

Odlan anticipated GDP to remain strong based on the consumer optimism and a good holiday shopping season to contribute to it.

Markets reporter Dominic Chu also tossed in an election-related question before the interview ended: “If the economy is so good, if things are going so well, if people are so confident, how is that not playing out in these election projections we’re seeing for the midterms?”

“Well, I don’t know if there is a correlation between consumer confidence and the elections and of course we’ll find out what happens next week. But I think that you see the focus here on the job, their own job situation and their own wage situation, and that’s really what ties to the consumer confidence.” Odland replied.

He added that based on consumer expectations, “They don’t obviously think whatever is going to happen next week [on Election Day] is going to derail that.”


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Julia A. Seymour's picture