Consumer Sentiment Rebounds More Than Expected, Dousing Recession Fears

American flag (Rusty Clark / Flickr / CC)
Rusty Clark / Flickr / CC

The summertime blues are behind us.

After plunging in August, U.S. consumer rebounded by more than expected in the first weeks in September, according to data released Friday by the University of Michigan.

Consumers felt better about both current conditions and their expectations for the future, according to the preliminary September survey.

Economists had expected the University of Michigan’s gauge to bounce to 91 after the August decline to 88. On Friday, however, the reading was 92.

The jump in sentiment, combined with a report of strong retail sales in August, indicates that consumers continue to support economic expansion, making a recession much less likely in the year ahead.

“While a recession is not anticipated in the year ahead, neither is a resurgence in personal consumption,” the survey’s chief economist, Richard Curtin, said. “The outlook for consumption is for a slower but positive growth, keeping the expansion going for another year.”

Concerns about tariffs rose in September as the Trump administration began raising tariffs on China. Thirty-eight percent of consumers surveyed spontaneously mentioned tariffs worries, according to Curtin. That’s the highest level of concern since tariffs were first announced in March of 2018.

The improvement in sentiment came from those under 45 years old and households with income in the top third, which combined account for about one-half of all consumer spending, Curtin said.

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