Republicans have sold their tax plan with the promise that it will speed economic growth and deliver more jobs, jobs, jobs. The pledge is right there in the title of the legislation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
While most economists doubt the tax plan would add substantial long-term growth, the Conference Board’s latest consumer confidence index, released Tuesday, shows just how much perceptions of the job market have already improved over the last couple of years as the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.1 percent. The share of consumers who now said jobs are “plentiful” rose from 36.7 percent to 37.1 percent, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” dipped from 17.1 percent to 16.9 percent. The net difference of 20.2 percentage points is the highest since 2001 — and up sharply from 2 percentage points on average last year and -3.8 percentage points in 2015, according to economist Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics.
Overall consumer confidence is doing pretty well, too. The Conference Board’s index rose to a better-than-expected 129.5, the highest level since November 2000. A key reason for that rise was a jump in expectations regarding the short-term economic outlook and optimism about further growth in the labor market.