Americans Are Getting Optimistic About the Economy, Survey Finds

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – A new report from Citibank (Stock Quote: C) suggests that American consumers are starting to feel chipper about the economy. Is it legit – or just another case of wishful thinking?

Citibank surveyed 2,003 American adults from Nov. 14-21 for the report, and almost half of the respondents (48%) said they expect local business conditions to improve during the next year.

In addition, the Citibank report shows that the mindset of American exceptionalism is alive and well, as 59% of survey respondents said the U.S. is well-positioned and likely to regain its premier post as a global economic business leader.

That’s quite a dose of optimism from the American public, which hasn’t had a lot to cheer about over the past few years. But employment conditions are starting to look up. Just today, the government reported that its weekly jobless claims index is down to its lowest levels since 2008 (there were 366,000 claims this week, down 19,000 from the first week in December).

That’s just the beginning: The National Retail Federation is out with new estimates on the 2011 holiday shopping season. The NRF has revised its original estimate upward, reporting today that American consumer holiday spending will be up 3.8% over the last 10-year average – that’s up from a 2.8% estimate in October.

In addition, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee came out with a new statement on Dec. 13 noting that the U.S. economy was “expanding moderately,” even as signs crop up that the global economy is slowing.

The Citibank survey, conducted by Hart Research, found that although 69% of Americans believe that the U.S. economy has not yet “hit bottom,” Americans are feeling better about the future. A sign of that sentiment: 32% of the study respondents say that their children’s generation will fare better economically than the present generation – up from 27% in August.

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