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No election fears: Consumer confidence hits 9-year high


Americans haven’t felt this good about the economy in a long time.

Consumer confidence rose in September to its highest level since August 2007 — before the Great Recession.

The data, released Tuesday by the Conference Board, a business association, helps dismiss arguments that the uncertainty of the election is weighing down Americans’ perception of the economy, said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, a research firm.

The September confidence reading was 104. It fell as low as 25 during the recession.

The improved outlook reflects a healthier job market, the Conference Board said. The unemployment rate is 4.9%, less than half its peak of 10% during the recession. And the last two years, 2014 and 2015, were the strongest for job growth since 1999.

But wage growth has been slow, and Americans don’t expect it to pick up soon. The share of Americans who believe their incomes will improve in the next six months declined in September, the board said.

Another measure of Americans’ confidence in the economy is presidential approval ratings. President Obama’s approval rating on jobs is 53%, up from 40% two years ago, according to Gallup.

Some economists are concerned that American businesses are waiting until after the election to start big projects. Spending on new buildings, equipment and projects is down this year, but it’s been weak for years, and it’s hard to link the dip to the election, economists say.

So far, Obama’s successor — whether it’s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton — doesn’t seem to be having an impact on how Americans feel about the economy.

“The data remain consistent with an improving labor market … with no sign of any significant negative impact from election-related uncertainties,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, a research firm.