The consumer confidence report for the month of March that came out yesterday was impressive on a lot of fronts. Confidence levels are at their highest since 2000, comfortably above the highs we saw during the prior expansion from 2003 through 2007. That breaks what had been a trend of lower highs in confidence since the peak consumer confidence readings in the 1990s.
One very good sign was that consumers felt more optimistic about the jobs market. The percentage of consumers stating jobs are “plentiful” rose from 26.9 percent to 31.7 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased from 19.9 percent to 19.5 percent.
If there was one concerning aspect of the report, though, it was among lower-income Americans. While higher income Americans saw their confidence levels surge to the highest levels since late 2000, confidence among consumers with incomes below $50,000 actually declined and has yet to exceed the peak levels we saw from the last cycle.