Beware. Things are not as bright as they may appear in the glare of a presidential election.
Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy reached its lowest weekly level so far in 2016, with Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index averaging -16 for the week ending April 24. The latest figure represents a four-point drop from the previous week's average. The last time Gallup found a lower weekly score was in August 2015.
The latest figure is not markedly lower than the -11 weekly index score average recorded so far in 2016, but it is part of a decline that started in late March. Pessimism has increased despite a strong stock market in recent weeks and a persistent low unemployment rate. However, there have been reports of weak retail sales and expectations of low first quarter economic growth. Gas prices have also started to rise, although they remain well below where they were for most of the past decade. Finally, consistent statements from presidential candidates about how they would fix the U.S. economy if elected might play a part in keeping Americans' economic optimism at lower levels.