Despite a spate of bad economic news recently, the RBC Consumer Outlook Index found U.S. consumer confidence has hit its highest level since the beginning of the financial crisis in September 2008.
The index attributes the sentiment to a pause in the increase of gas prices and a sense that the job market is improving. As measured by the RBC Consumer Outlook Index, consumer confidence rose to 46.7 for June, up 3.8 points from May's 42.9 reading.
"The rise in consumer confidence in June was broad-based, with all of the key underlying metrics rising,” RBC Capital Markets Chief U.S. economist Tom Porcelli said in a statement. “This improvement is likely a response to the sharp pullback in gasoline prices over the last few weeks. That said, it's important to note that even with this welcomed increase, confidence remains below the historical average and is only slightly better than the average for all of 2010."
With the federal debt ceiling having been reached and Congress focused on deficit reduction, Americans remain divided over what course they want lawmakers to take. Although defense and entitlements make up the largest part of the budget, only one in four Americans (27%) want to see defense spending reduced and 17% want to see Medicaid cut.
Even fewer want to cut Medicare (12%) or Social Security (10%). Only one in five (18%) want to see tax increases as part of a budget deal. Instead, 59% of Americans want Congress to cut an unspecified group of "other government programs."