Survey: Consumer Sentiment Rises in April

Consumer confidence improved in April, according to a just-released survey from the University of Michigan. The study’s consumer sentiment index hit 98 this month, up from 96.9 in March. The reading also exceeded the expectations of analysts, who had predicted a drop to 96.5.

According to the University of Michigan, the current conditions index within the study had a particularly strong showing, rising two points to 115.2 – the highest reading in more than 16 years. The data also showed that 82% of respondents held favorable home-buying attitudes – the most since 2005 and just below the record. Experts believe the high readings could be, in part, the result of continued optimism many Americans feel following the election of President Donald Trump, who has promised more jobs, tax cuts, increased infrastructure spending and looser regulations.

Nonetheless, the upbeat sentiment certainly isn’t being felt by all – particularly those who identify as Democrats. Indeed, expectations about the economy were sharply split across political party lines. Twenty-eight percent of Democrats expect continued gains in the economy over the next five years compared to 69% of Republicans.

“Much more progress on shrinking the partisan gap is needed to bring economic expectations in line with reality,” Richard Curtin, the survey’s chief economist, said in a press release. “A slow pace of convergence will make it more difficult to disentangle political fervor from what appears to be a growing sense among consumers that the economy will experience fundamental changes in the years ahead.”

The University of Michigan’s monthly survey of 500 consumers measures attitudes toward topics including personal finances, inflation, unemployment, government policies and interest rates. Consumer sentiment can be a bellwether of consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy.