Consumer sentiment ticks up as unemployment remains around 50-year lows


Customers look on as a Walmart cashier rings up their purchases at a Walmart store on August 15, 2019 in Richmond, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

U.S. consumer sentiment came in marginally above expectations and within striking distance of a cyclical peak amid strength in the labor market and strong increases in income, data released Friday showed.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index came in at 99.8 for January. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected consumer sentiment to come in at 99.1. The print is also a slight uptick from December’s 99.3 reading. 

“The resilience of consumers is remarkable and due to record low unemployment, record gains in income and wealth, as well as near record lows in inflation and interest rates,” said Richard Curtin, Surveys of Consumers chief economist, in a statement. 

The U.S. unemployment rate was at 3.5% in December, its lowest level in about five decades. Personal income rose 0.2% last month after a 0.4% in November. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve kept rates near historically low levels earlier in January.

Still, Curtin remarked this consumer resiliency “is surprising given the overall slow pace of economic growth, which was accompanied in January by renewed military engagements in the Mideast, an impeachment trial in the Senate, and a fast spreading coronavirus.”

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