An Economic Vibe Check

February 2, 2024

Promising jobs and consumer sentiment numbers will require effort to sustain.

The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.

Amid Hopeful Economic Indicators, Policymakers’ Work Must Continue

Today’s jobs report, indicating that the economy added a whopping 353,000 jobs in January, pairs nicely with another good piece of economic news: The consumer sentiment index jumped to its highest level since July 2021—increasing by 28.5 percent over the last two months and representing the largest gain since 1991.

This growth in Americans’ optimism about the economy wouldn’t have happened without broad economic policies enacted to ease the shock of the pandemic recession, writes the Roosevelt Institute’s Alí Bustamante in a new blog post.

But growth takes time to reach all parts of the economy, and for a while Americans were struggling with high inflation, interest rate hikes, and suppressed wages, even in broader positive conditions. “A big reason for the disconnect is the unevenness in how different cities and states have recovered,” Bustamante told CNBC this week. “When you delve in deeper in some areas, you see a lot of variation [in] how communities are recovering.” (Roosevelt explored some of these geographic disparities in economic recovery last month.)

“[I]n order for consumer sentiment to improve,” Bustamante writes in the new piece, “Americans must experience economic conditions that both restore their economic well-being and instill optimism about future economic gains.” In contrast to the sluggish recovery after 2008’s Great Recession, the government’s investments in the COVID era—like the American Rescue Plan—have helped boost a crisis-battered economy, and consumer sentiment is now following suit.

“Policymakers must now stay the course and continue to deliver broad and sustained improvements in economic conditions in order to carry forward public opinion,” Bustamante writes. Read more in “Americans Are Starting to Feel the Economic Recovery.”


Listen: How a New Economics Went Mainstream

This week, Roosevelt’s think tank vice president, Suzanne Kahn, joined the Pitchfork Economics podcast to discuss the changing tide of economic policy and Roosevelt’s recent report, Sea Change: How a New Economics Went Mainstream.

“I do think we are at this moment where people are questioning neoliberalism and the dominant policy frame in a way that has not happened in 30, 40 years,” Kahn told host Nick Hanauer. “[A]t a moment when things are up for grabs, it’s so important that we are trying to ensure and [put] forward a vision that can shape a whole range of public policies that move us in a more progressive direction.”

Listen Now


What We’re Talking About


What We’re Reading

We Can Still Make a Good Economy Much Better – Vox

How Do We Build Back Better after a Crisis? [podcast] – feat. Roosevelt’s Todd N. Tucker – Gates Cambridge

Discussing Tax Trends around the Country with the Roosevelt Institute [podcast] – feat. Roosevelt’s Emily DiVito – WHBY

Biden Pauses LNG Export Approvals after Pressure from Climate Activists – Reuters

House Passes Expanded Child Tax Credit Bill, Sends It to Senate – NBC News

The UAW’s New Push to Organize Nonunion Auto Is Bearing FruitJacobin