Americans are ending 2017 feeling very good about the economy.
Consumer confidence hit 122.1 in December, slightly below the 17-year high set in November, 128.6, according to the Conference Board’s index released Wednesday.
“Despite the decline in confidence, consumers’ expectations remain at historically strong levels, suggesting economic growth will continue well into 2018,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.
Confidence has been fueled by a few factors: The job market, the stock market rally and Republicans’ fiscal reforms.
The U.S. job market is very strong. Unemployment in America is at 4.1%, the lowest level since 2000. Job openings are abundant too. The U.S. economy has gained jobs for 86 consecutive months, the longest streak in history, according to Labor Department figures going back to 1939. Balanced growth in the global economy has supported some U.S. hiring in 2017.
The stock market’s surge has also been another reflection of consumer confidence. The Dow is just below 25,000 points. It ended 2016 just below 20,000 points.
President Trump and the Republicans’ promise — and passage — of tax cuts fueled consumer optimism as well.
Consumers plan to make big-ticket purchases in the next six months. The share of Americans planning to buy refrigerators and washing machines (9.2%) reached its highest point since at least 1978, according to the Conference Board’s December survey.
Over 60% of Americans surveyed by the Conference Board in December said they intend to take a vacation in the next six months, a sign of optimism. That level is just below October’s figure of 63.5%, which was the highest since at least 1978.
The Conference Board said December’s small decline from November was attributed to Americans feeling slightly less optimistic about future job prospects.