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National Restaurant Association - Consumers more upbeat about local economy

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Consumers more upbeat about local economy

Consumers remain uninspired by the national economy, but are twice as likely to view their local economy favorably, according to the NRA’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy.  His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on Restaurant.org and Restaurant TrendMapper.

The national economy continued to add jobs at a moderate pace in April, according to figures released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The economy added a net 160,000 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis in April, which brought the total employment gain over the last 12 months to nearly 2.7 million jobs.

Taking a wider view, the national economy has added more than 14 million jobs since the employment recovery began just over six years ago. 

However, despite these steady gains, consumers for the most part remain unimpressed by the national economy.  In a new nationwide survey* fielded last weekend, less than one in five adults describe the current state of the national economy as either “excellent” (2 percent) or “good” (16 percent).  Fully eight in 10 consumers give the national economy ratings of “fair” (42 percent) or “poor” (38 percent). 

If we looked back six years – and 14 million jobs – we would find that consumers’ assessment of the national economy really hasn’t moved that much.  When asked the same question in 2010, eight percent of adults gave the national economy ratings of “excellent” or “good.”

While the American public remains generally uninspired by the national economy, they are decidedly more sanguine about economic conditions in their own community.  Nearly four in 10 adults describe the state of their local economy as either “excellent” (7 percent) or “good” (30 percent), which is twice as many as reported similarly about the national economy.

To be sure, there is plenty of room for improvement locally, even if the assessment isn’t as bleak as it is for the national economy.  However, as restaurant sales trends are largely driven by local economic conditions, the comparatively positive feelings that consumers have about the economy in their community bode well for the industry’s business environment in the months ahead. 

*The survey results are based on a nationally-representative telephone survey of 1,006 adults conducted April 28 – May 1, 2016 for the National Restaurant Association by ORC International.

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