Economic Confidence Highest Since Great Recession

A new Gallup poll finds Americans are becoming more confident about the economy, though post-recession worry still lingers for many.

Americans are entering 2015 with their highest level of economic confidence since the Great Recession.

That’s the finding in a new poll by Gallup Inc. The polling agency’s US Economic Confidence Index hit +2 last week, reaching positive territory for the first time since Gallup began tracking economic sentiment in 2008.

The poll was conducted during the Christmas holiday, from Dec. 22-28. However, in a blog post, Gallup said it has never seen a consistent bump in economic sentiment over the holidays, thus, Gallup believes the higher confidence levels are the result of actual structural improvement rather than temporary, seasonal optimism.

The post’s author, Andrew Dugan, concludes that “judging from past years, economic perceptions are more likely than not to continue to improve. Gallup has found that confidence typically increases in January, with monthly index increases between the last and first months of the year ranging between one and 11 points.”

The index is made up of 2 factors: Americans’ perceptions of the current economy, and their views about whether the economy is getting better or worse. Sentiments went up in both areas last week.

Still, the overall sentiment score, while a milestone, is not so much a sign of booming confidence as it is of economic optimism catching up to economic pessimism, according to the data. Indeed, the same percentage of Americans—27%—say the economy is “poor” as say it’s “good” or “excellent.” And while 49% say the economy is getting better, 45% see it as getting worse. In theory, the index could range anywhere from -100 to +100, thus an overall level of +2 is still in the middle of the overall scale.