1. US Consumer Spending Hit Nine-Year High in December

2. US Economic Confidence Matches Record High in December

3. Americans’ Investor Confidence Ends 2016 at Nine-Year High

4. Gallup’s US Job Creation Index Ends 2016 on High Note

5. US Conservatives Outnumber Liberals by Narrowing Margin

Overview

When the Commerce Department reported on December 22 that 3Q Gross Domestic Product increased at an annual rate of 3.5%, many of us in the forecasting business wondered if that figure might be too optimistic. We also wondered whether the economy could sustain a 3+% growth rate in the 4Q.

While we won’t get our first official look at 4Q GDP until January 27 when the government will release its “advance” estimate, there are several signs and stats which suggest the economy did in fact end 2016 on a strong note, certainly in November and December. We’ll look at some of that data as we go along today.

As I wrote in my Blog last Thursday, the Consumer Confidence Index rose to the highest level in over a decade in December at 113.7 versus a revised 109.4 in November. Most analysts believe the surge in confidence is due to the election of Donald Trump, but I believe part of it is also that millions of Americans will be happy to see President Obama leave office on January 20.

Along with the various economic stats we’ll look at below, there is a new survey from Gallup which shows that the percentage of Americans who identify as conservatives remains well above the percentage who identify as liberals. However, Gallup notes that liberals have been gaining on conservatives since 1996. Whatever your political leaning, you’ll find this interesting.

So let’s get started.

US Consumer Spending Hit Nine-Year High in December

Americans’ annual end-of-the-year holiday shopping spree boosted Gallup’s daily measure of consumer spending to the highest average for December since Gallup began tracking spending in 2008. The self-reported daily average spending of $105 is a $7 increase from $98 in November and a $6 hike from $99 last December.

The $105 average for December is also the highest for any month since May 2008 ($114), when spending was boosted by government-issued rebate checks designed to stimulate the economy.

Americans Spending

The December average is based on more than 13,500 interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily Tracking throughout December. Gallup asked Americans each night to report how much they spent the previous day, excluding normal household bills and major purchases such as a home or car. The measure gives a good indication of discretionary spending.

December marks the third consecutive month and the fifth month this year (including March and April) that the daily spending average has matched or exceeded the highest average for that month in Gallup’s trend. The $92 overall average for all of 2016 is still slightly below 2008’s average of $96, but higher than any year since.