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August 6, 2004
Economy Inspiring Higher Consumer Confidence

In another significant development for the upcoming presidential campaign, the AP-Ipsos consumer-confidence survey returned its highest numbers of the year as more Americans trust that the economy has really rebounded and will continue its upward trajectory:

Consumer confidence surged during the past month to its highest level since the beginning of the year, with Americans feeling better about their own finances and more optimistic about the future despite renewed terror threats and rising oil prices. Consumer confidence has been rising for the past four months as the economy has been on a solid path to recovery.

The AP-Ipsos consumer confidence index climbed to 104.8 in August, up from 92.0 in July, led by consumers' perceptions of their own finances and optimism about the future.

It's yet another sign that the Kerry/Edwards campaign of class warfare and economic pessimism has failed to capture the imagination of the electorate, which is experiencing what Kerry tells them isn't there -- a true economic recovery. New-home sales are bursting, jobs have been added to the economy at a tremendous clip this year, and people are beginning to notice it. If Kerry remains on message, he runs the risk of being perceived as disconnected from reality, and if he starts changing his tune, it will be viewed as yet another flip-flop.

Two more months of this and continued Kerry/Edwards stump stumbles, and Hugh Hewitt's 40-state landslide might just become a reality.

UPDATE: And then, a cold dash of water:

The 32,000 net jobs added in July represented the smallest gain in hiring since December and followed a revised gain of just 78,000 in June, even less than previously reported. May's payrolls also were revised down to show a gain of 208,000.

The unemployment rate is calculated based on a survey of households - a sort of poll - in which people are asked to state whether they have jobs or are looking for work. The seasonally adjusted civilian unemployment rate thus is the percentage of the labor force represented by those who are either listed as officially unemployed or searching for work. With a contraction in the size of the labor force, that dropped the unemployment rate by a minuscule 0.1 percentage point from June to July.

Analysts were expecting the economy to add anywhere from 215,000 to 247,000 jobs in July. They were predicting the jobless rate to hold steady at 5.6 percent.

No doubt, this hurts Bush, despite the higher consumer confidence numbers. People may rush to point out that the household survey showed an addition of over six hundred thousand jobs in July, but the BLS statistic is, for better or worse, the one used as the barometer.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 6, 2004 6:56 AM

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