Consumer Confidence for the month of September was released earlier yesterday and showed a surprisingly large increase. While economists were expecting the headline number to come in at a level of 99.0, the actual reading came in at a level of 104.1 from an upwardly revised level of 101.8 last month. With this month's reading, Consumer Confidence is now at its highest level of the entire recovery and well above the long-term average of 93.4.
Within the overall report, each month, we also track confidence levels based on income. Throughout this recovery, we have highlighted the widening gap in confidence between consumers with incomes above $50K versus those with incomes between $35K and $50K. In recent months, this gap has narrowed as consumers in the 'middle' income cohort have seen a spike in confidence levels. What was interesting about this month's report is that even as overall confidence increased, both of these income groups saw a decline in confidence.
What was interesting about the confidence data by income was where we saw the biggest spike; that was in the cohort of those with incomes below $15K. In this month's report, overall confidence for those with sub-$15K incomes spiked from 60.3 up to 89.9. That's the highest monthly reading since August 2001 and the largest monthly increase on record going back to 1980.