Michigan consumer sentiment index rising

May 13, 2011

Some potentially good news for Michigan's economy.

In May, the consumer confidence index for the state rose "to 72.4, a three-month high," according to Bloomburg News.

Omair Sharif, an economist, says that the rise can be attributed to improvements in employment numbers despite the destabilizing effect of high gas prices.

Bloomburg News reports:

Consumer confidence climbed more than forecast in May as Americans turned more hopeful that employment gains will be sustained, helping them cope with higher fuel and food costs.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index rose to 72.4, a three-month high, from a final reading of 69.8 in April, the group reported today. The gauge was projected to rise to 70, according to the median forecast of 62 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Payroll gains for seven consecutive months and rising retail sales since July indicate consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, will keep growing. At the same time, the costliest gasoline since July 2008 and bigger bills for groceries underscore the burden on households that may restrain confidence.

“Improvement in the job situation has helped stabilize confidence after the big hit due to gas prices,” said Omair Sharif, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. “High prices are still clearly weighing on sentiment. It means very gradual, modest gains in consumer spending.”

The average Michigan gas price is $4.169 per gallon according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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