The FINANCIAL -- Americans' confidence in the economy returned to its recent levels last week after a record-setting post-recession high the week before. Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index was +9 for the week ending March 12.
This is down from +16 the previous week. The latest figure is in line with weekly scores recorded throughout February.
The current +9 reading also matches the average for weekly confidence scores since the presidential election in November. Since late November, Americans have expressed higher confidence in the U.S. economy than they have during any period since Gallup began tracking the index in 2008, according to Gallup.
Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they feel the economy is improving or getting worse. The index has a theoretical maximum of +100 if all Americans were to say the economy is doing well and improving, and a theoretical minimum of -100 if all Americans were to say the economy is doing poorly and getting worse.
The fluctuation in the index's scores in March reflects a correction in Americans' outlook for the direction of the economy, which was particularly sunny despite political party affiliation in the week President Donald Trump gave a generally well-received address to Congress and the stock market rallied to new heights.
While economic confidence among Republicans has remained steadily high for the past three weeks, the fluctuation in the latest national figure resulted from movement among Democrats and independents, whose confidence returned this past week to previous lower levels.
Currently, 48% of Americans say the economy is getting better, and 45% say it is getting worse. That compares with 54% and 39%, respectively, the prior week. As a result, the economic outlook component of Gallup's index fell to +3 from +15.
Meanwhile, Americans' assessments of current economic conditions were largely unchanged. For the week ending March 12, 34% of Americans rated the economy as "excellent" or "good," and 20% rated it as "poor," resulting in a +14 current conditions score -- about where it has been since late January.
Americans' current level of economic confidence is about where it was before the stock market rally and Trump's address to Congress -- and it is well above the mostly negative scores Gallup recorded from 2008 to late 2016. Their confidence may have subsided last week after a slight decline in the Dow Jones industrial average after its massive gains in February.