A new release by Rasmussen shows consumer confidence in the U.S. economy increasing slightly from last month, but the economic outlook remains far below the pre-COVID-19 pandemic economy.
The latest Rasmussen Reports Economic Index shows an economic confidence score of 89.3—over 10 points higher than last month, but still well below any semblance of strong economic confidence such as that seen in the late 2010s.
This subtle improvement in the assessment of the U.S. economy may be partially attributable to a flattening in the rate of inflation, which calmed down in July's Consumer Price Index after June's data attested to a new 40-year record rate of annual inflation (9.1 percent). While the month-to-month rate of inflation remained constant between June and July, the annual rate was lower in the most recent data, falling at a somewhat lower 8.5 percent.
Confidence in the economy was highest during Trump's presidency, reaching a peak confidence score of 147.8 in January 2020. The path has been turbulent since then, with economic confidence dipping rapidly during the lockdowns and mass unemployment of the early pandemic. However, a bull market spurred on by COVID-19 stimulus money caused the economic outlook to rebound to 123.7 by November 2020.
However, the days of wine and roses were not long, and economic confidence began to plummet again soon after President Joe Biden assumed the office of the supreme executive of the United States. The February 2021 score of 97.8 was higher than the all time low of 78.6 in July this year, and remains far below pre-pandemic levels. The ruling Chinese Communist Party's restrictive "zero-COVID" policies and Russia's war on Ukraine have also disrupted trade in the globalized economy.
While the recent Economic Index may offer some small relief from the overall dour assessments of the present economic outlook, much more drastic improvements are needed beyond the past month of inflation flatlining to return to healthy levels of consumer confidence.