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Tuesday
Jan182011

Edge in Optimism Hits an Eight-Year High

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Economic optimism exceeds pessimism by the widest margin in more than eight years in this week’s ongoing Consumer Comfort survey, a fresh sign of improvement in public views of the nation’s economy -- but with continued challenges also clear.

Thirty-three percent of Americans now say the economy’s getting better -- the most since January 2004 -- while just 23 percent say it’s worsening -- the fewest even longer back, since March 2002. That 10-point edge in optimism is its biggest since that 2002 poll.

Recent economic news likewise is punctuated with gains and setbacks alike. Employment has shown progress, with weekly initial jobless claims dropping to more than a two-year low early this month, and December unemployment slipping below 9.5 percent for the first time in more than a year. But weekly claims have risen the past two weeks.

Similarly, retail sales rose in December for the sixth consecutive month, according to data released last week. But, while nearly eight percent higher than a year ago, these gains were smaller than expected, and smaller than they’d been the previous two months. 

The CCI ratings have a long way to go. Just 27 percent call it a good time to buy things and 45 percent rate their personal finances positively -- both within a point of their 2010 averages. For the second week in a row 13 percent rate the national economy positively -- a result mirrored in an ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier Tuesday. While hardly robust, this is the most it’s been in more than two years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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