Economic Confidence Hits Net Positive For First Time In COVID-19 Pandemic

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Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A recent Gallup survey of Americans’ confidence in the economy turned positive in April for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. early last year.

The Economic Confidence Index registered a score of +2 points in April, indicating more Americans had a positive view of current economic conditions than a negative view. The results are based on a Gallup survey this month in which 28% of respondents described current economic conditions as “excellent” or “good,” while 26% described them as “poor.”

Economic confidence stood at -32 points at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, shortly before former President Donald Trump declared a national emergency amid rising COVID-19 infections. The index had registered a score of +41 points just before the first outbreak in the United States.

The economy entered a brief recession in early April 2020 as the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7% and monthly economic output plunged 11.3%. Business activity slowed as officials enacted lockdowns and other restrictions, during which economic confidence reached a record low of -33 points, according to Gallup.

Economic confidence improved in the following months, reaching -1 points immediately after November’s presidential election. But the pandemic’s deadliest period during the winter season led economic confidence to once again plunge to -21 points.

Americans’ positive outlook this month comes as the weekly rolling average of new COVID-19 cases has declined 75% since its peak in early January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Atlanta Federal Reserve has also projected a 10% quarterly increase in gross domestic product. (RELATED: World Economy Expected To Surge More Than Previously Projected, IMF Says)

A Commerce Department report last Friday found that personal income increased 10% this month, the largest monthly increase since April 2020. The gains were largely attributed to stimulus payments that Congress included in COVID-19 relief legislation, which President Joe Biden signed into law in early March.

The unemployment rate registered at 6% in March as the economy added nearly 1 million non-farm payroll jobs last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.