Confidence Struggles Ahead

Among other groups, the index is -8 among those with the highest incomes (the best since early March) but -75 among those with the lowest, -31 among those who've attended college vs. -61 among high school dropouts, -39 among homeowners (the best since October) compared with -48 among renters (the best since April 2008) and -39 among whites (the best since October) vs. -57 among blacks.

Partisan differences remain: The index is -32 among Republicans vs. -49 among Democrats and -39 among independents (the best for the latter group since July).

Here's a closer look at the three components of the ABC News CCI:

NATIONAL ECONOMY – Ten percent of Americans rate the economy as excellent or good; it was 9 percent last week. The highest was 80 percent Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 4 percent Feb. 8.

PERSONAL FINANCES – Fifty-two percent say their own finances are excellent or good; it was 51 percent last week. The best was 70 percent, last reached in January 2000. The worst was 41 percent Jan. 25.

BUYING CLIMATE – Twenty-five percent say it's an excellent or good time to buy things; it was 26 percent last week. The best was 57 percent on Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 18 percent Oct. 19, Aug. 10 and Aug. 24, 2008.

METHODOLOGY – Interviews for the ABC News Consumer Comfort Index are reported in a four-week rolling average. This week's results are based on telephone interviews among a random national sample of 1,000 adults in the four weeks ending May 10, 2009. The results have a 3-point error margin. Field work by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

The index is derived by subtracting the negative response to each index question from the positive response to that question. The three resulting numbers are added and divided by three. The index can range from +100 (everyone positive on all three measures) to -100 (all negative on all three measures). The survey began in December 1985.

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