By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

A continuing robust job market has also boosted U.S. consumer confidence to an all-time high in nearly two decades, according to data released by The Conference Board’s index.

Bloomberg News reports the data exceeded all estimates in its survey of economists, with the highest views on the current economic climate at their highest since November 2000.

The index “shows hiring and income gains are keeping consumers upbeat and assuaging concerns about the economy’s prospects in light of slowing global growth, volatile financial markets and escalating U.S.-China trade tensions,” Bloomberg reports.

The majority of respondents saying jobs are plentiful jumped to 51.2 percent, the highest since September 2000, according to the index, while those saying jobs are hard to find declined to the lowest level in three months.

“While other parts of the economy may show some weakening, consumers have remained confident and willing to spend,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “However, if the recent escalation in trade and tariff tensions persists, it could potentially dampen consumers’ optimism regarding the short-term economic outlook.”

The report comes after record job numbers were published by the U.S. Department of Labor and record highs were reached by the Dow Jones and S&P 500 in mid-July.

Within a record-setting 24-hour period, the S&P 500 surpassed 3,000 for the first time since its founding in 1896, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 27,000 for the first time since its founding in 1885.

In the first six months of 2019, the Dow rose by 16 percent and the S&P 500 by 20 percent.

In April, 263,000 nonfarm jobs were added to the economy, with hourly wage growth up by two-tenths of a percent and unemployment at 3.6 percent, its lowest level since December 1969. In June, 224,000 nonfarm jobs were added, far more than what economists predicted.

In July, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 164,000, with an unchanged unemployment rate of 3.7 percent.

Positive responses also came after President Donald Trump said in August that he was considering indexing capital gains to inflation. Conservative groups argue this will build on the success of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that spawned economic growth, job creation and wage increases.

“Indexing is something that a lot of people have liked for a long time and it is something that would be very easy to do,” Trump said. “I can say that a majority of the people in the White House, at the level that does this kind of thing, they like indexing. So it is something I’m thinking about.”

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist said, “Taxing inflation is wrong and unfair,” adding that ending the taxation of inflation on capital gains would strengthen the economy.

A coalition of 51 conservative groups sent President Trump a letter earlier this year urging him to end the inflation tax on savings and investment. They maintain, “American families and job creators should not have to pay taxes on phantom income.”

ATR notes that because of the TCJA, 90 percent of American wage earners have higher take-home pay.


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