The Conference Board reported today that its Consumer Confidence Index increased for the third consecutive month. It is now at 63.3, compared to 57.7 in April. The Consumer Expectations Index (index of consumer expectations about the future) is at 85.3 versus 77.4 last month. That’s better than pre-recession levels. People are much more optimistic about business and labor market conditions. Americans expect the economy to continue to improve and that more jobs will become available in the months ahead.
All this is bad news for Republicans who hoped to ride to victory in November and possible take over the House or Senate or both because of job fears and worries about the economy. In a previous post, I said that jobs are the key to Democratic wins in November but..big but…it’s not as much the actual job picture at the time of the election but voter EXPECTATIONS about jobs in the future. If the trends reported by the Conference Board hold, we may go into the mid-term elections with voters feeling disappointed with the unemployment rate, which will probably still be over 9%, but optimistic that, at least as far as jobs are concerned, the country is on the right track and a brighter job market is ahead. Voters are much less likely to dump Democrats under those conditions. Still, a lot might happen between now and November so we will see.
Down side for Democrats is that the Obama administration is taking increasing heat for the BP disaster. If Obama doesn’t want BP to turn into his Katrina then he needs to get federal feet on the ground in Louisiana and along the gulf coast doing something. Let’s see thousands of soldiers cleaning up oil off the beaches and sailors operating oil skimmers. Just sending members of the cabinet to the Gulf to make speeches is not enough. So, Obama, get busy at least looking like you are busy cleaning up BP’s mess.
Read the Conference Board report here: http://www.conference-board.org/economics/ConsumerConfidence.cfm