The U.S. Consumer sentiment is at a level we haven't seen since before the recession. What that means, in the simplest terms, is that you feel pretty awesome about buying things right now.
"The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary October reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 83.1, up from 78.3 the month before, and the highest since September 2007," reports Reuters's Edward Krudy. He adds, "It was well above the median forecast for a slight decline to 78 among economists polled by Reuters." Now, what these numbers and this fancy survey means is that consumers feel good about purchases at the moment. Whether that high consumer sentiment is connected to or reflective of other economic factors like the low unemployment numbers and low unemployment claims is up for debate, but this is the highest the sentiment and the lowest unemployment has been since 2009, and the two reports have come around the same time as one another. Keep in mind, though, that sentiment index is different than "consumer confidence" ... sort of. "Both measure consumers' ability or willingness to buy stuff," Marketplace senior producer Paddy Hirsh explained in August. Hirsh explains that one measures your mood right now while the other measures how confident you feel about the future:
So say you're thinking about buying a refrigerator. So the consumer confidence questions—the questions that they ask when they're polling people—essentially ask you are you going to be happy buying a refrigerator in six months time. The consumer sentiment people, they're asking you how you feel about buying a refrigerator right now.
That means that right here, right now, we feel as good about buying our refrigerators as we did in 2007. Chin up, folks!