Washington, DC, led the nation in economic confidence during the first half of 2011 with the only positive Economic Confidence Index score (+11) in the US, according to Gallup daily tracking data released in August 2011. A 12-point increase in confidence compared with the same period a year ago expanded its lead.
Maryland and Virginia, states adjacent to Washington, DC, are also in the top 10 in confidence, as they were in the first half of 2010. Commodity-producing states, including farm and energy states, make up most of the rest of the top 10, with tech- and healthcare-driven Massachusetts a notable exception.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index averaged -28 nationwide during the first six months of 2011, reflecting Americans’ pessimistic views of the current and future U.S. economy. This consumer pessimism essentially matches that of the first half of 2010, when the index averaged -26.
The index is based on two questions: the first asking consumers to rate their perceptions of current economic conditions as “excellent,” “good,” “only fair,” or “poor,” and the second asking them whether economic conditions in the country are “getting better” or “getting worse.”
Oil Spill States Move into Bottom 10
While the bottom 10 states in the first half of 2011 are diverse, the majority were also in the bottom 10 during the first half of 2010. Delaware and three Gulf oil-spill states , Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, moved into the bottom 10, while Wyoming, Montana, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Arizona moved out.
Heartland Feels Healthy
Examining trends in economic confidence by region, states with above average levels of economic confidence are clustered in what could be called the country’s “heartland,” states in the Midwest and Southwest. In addition, two East Coast states (Massachusetts and Virgina), as well as the non-contiguous state of Alaska, also have above average confidence scores.
Meanwhile, the Mountain West and Southern regions of the US have heavy pockets of below average confidence, along with the Southwestern state of Arizona and several states in the Midwest and Northeast.
Average confidence levels can be found throughout the country, with notable clusters of states in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic/Northeast, and Plains regions.
Consumer Reports: Consumer Confidence Nosedives
The August 2011 Consumer Sentiment Index of the Consumer Reports Index, which measures how consumers are feeling financially when compared with a year ago, fell to its lowest level since December 2009 and registered its sharpest drop in two years, according to Consumer Reports. The August score of 43.4 is down sharply from 48.5 last month, which itself was stagnant from the June score of 46.2.
The August score is also down from the score of 44.7 reported in August 2010. Consumer Reports analysis indicates recent events in Washington about the debt ceiling debate fixed attention on the weak economy.
About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews with 87,634 employed adults, aged 18 and older, conducted from January-June 2011 as part of Gallup Daily tracking.