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Americans are feeling better about the economy for the first time in four months

·2 mins

Americans’ attitudes toward the economy improved this month for the first time since January, thanks to better perceptions of the job market. The Consumer Confidence Index for this month climbed to a reading of 102, up from 97.5 in April. Americans of all age groups felt better about the economy. Consumer confidence declined in each of the prior three months. Consumers’ assessment of current business conditions was slightly less positive than last month. However, the strong labor market continued to bolster consumers’ overall assessment of the present situation. Compared to another consumer survey, the Conference Board survey puts more weight on perceptions of the job market. Unemployment remains below 4%, job openings still exceed the number of unemployed people seeking work, and employers are still creating jobs. Consumer confidence declined for three straight months prior to May due to elevated inflation. The survey showed that consumers cited rising prices, especially for food and groceries, as having the greatest impact on their view of the US economy. Respondents felt more optimistic about the stock market. A higher percentage expected stock prices to increase over the year ahead. Major stock indexes have recently reached record highs. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released survey data on consumer expectations for public policies. The survey showed increased expectations for certain policies such as federal minimum wage, welfare and unemployment benefits, federal student aid, and student loan forgiveness. Pessimism heightened about housing assistance and affordable housing. Consumers remained optimistic about tax benefits for homeowners, particularly higher mortgage interest tax deduction.