May 11 - U.S. consumer sentiment hit a four-year high in early May as Americans remain optimistic about jobs. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Consumer sentiment rose to a four-year high in early May as Americans bet the labor market will get better despite lackluster job growth the month before. Nearly twice as many consumers said they were hearing about more hirings than firings, according to the preliminary Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey. The data show consumers are getting used to the new normal, says Richard Curtin, director of the survey. SOUNDBITE: RICHARD CURTIN, DIRECTOR, THOMSON REUTERS/UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SURVEYS OF CONSUMERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Unfortunately, consumers have reluctantly accepted the fact that we are in a slow growth world and they think it is starting to get better, especially on the employment side and this is quite hopeful for them. Now, it is also true that we are halfway between the recession low and the peak we recorded in January of 2007, so it's still very mediocre." But mediocre isn't that bad when consumer spending makes up two-thirds of all economic activity. And with gas prices heading down after a late-winter sprint, some analysts say consumer spending may provide a much needed economic lift, if hiring picks up again. Conway Gittens, Reuters