It also marked an improvement from early January's 71.3 preliminary figure, which had been the lowest level in over a year. Survey interviews were done before data earlier this week showed the economy contracted in the fourth quarter.
The agreement reached in Washington earlier in January averted the full brunt of tax increases and spending cuts that had been set to come into effect. But taxes did increase for some Americans, and a 2 percent reduction in payroll taxes came to an end.
"The payroll tax increase has had a significant impact on spending among lower income households," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.
Politicians still face a round of budget decisions in the first half of the year, including large automatic federal spending cuts that are looming as of March.