Confidence index rebounds on more upbeat outlook

A measure of consumer confidence has rebounded to its highest level in seven months on more upbeat assessments of business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index (CCI), jumped nine points in September to 70.3. That’s the highest reading since the CCI stood at 71.6 in February.

“Consumers were more positive in their assessment of current conditions, in particular the job market, and considerably more optimistic about the short-term outlook for business conditions, employment and their financial situation. Despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumers are slightly more optimistic than they can been in several months,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board,  a business research and membership group.

The CCI is based on the results of monthly surveys of U.S. households, Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of economic activity.

For September, more upbeat assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed up the Present Situation component of the index nearly four points to 50.2.

The proportion of consumers responding to the surveys upon which the index was based who described businesses conditions as “good” edged up two-tenths of a point to 15.5 percent. The share of those who characterized conditions as “bad” fell a point to 33.3 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” rose more than a point to 8.3 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” fell seven-tenths of a point to 39.9 percent.

A more optimistic outlook for business and labor conditions over the next six months pushed up the Expectations component of the index nearly 13 points to 83.7.

The share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve advanced 1.5 points to 18.2 percent. The proportion of those who anticipate worsening conditions retreated almost four points to 13.8 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months increased nearly three points to 18.5 percent. The proportion of those who anticipate fewer jobs decreased more than five points to 18.5 percent.

Meanwhile, 16.3 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, a gain of three-tenths of a point over the previous month.