Confidence index rises on more upbeat outlook

A monthly measure of consumer confidence increased in July as more upbeat expectations for the near future outweighed less favorable assessments of current business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rose nearly two points to 59.5.

“Consumer confidence posted a modest gain in July, the result of an improvement in consumers’ short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

“Consumers’ appraisal of current business and employment conditions, however, was less favorable as concerns about the labor market continue to weigh on consumers’ attitudes,” Franco added. “Overall, consumers remain apprehensive about the future, but some of the concern expressed last month has abated.”

The Conference Board, a business research and membership group, bases the CCI on monthly surveys of U.S. households. Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

A slightly more pessimistic view of current conditions pulled down the present situation component of the CCI nearly a point in July.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the July index was based who consider business conditions “good” slipped three-tenths to 13.4 percent. The share of those who deem conditions “bad” rose six-tenths to 39 percent.

The proportion of consumers who characterized jobs as “plentiful” remained unchanged at just

5.1 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” increased nearly a point to 44.1 percent.

A more upbeat outlook for the next six months pushed up the expectations component of the CCI nearly four points to 75.4.

The share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve advanced 1.2 points to 17.7 percent. The proportion of those who anticipate worse conditions also rose, up three-tenths to 15.2 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available increased nearly three points to 16.7 percent, while the proportion of those who believe fewer jobs will be available rose more than a point to 21.8 percent.

The share of consumers who anticipate an increase in their incomes advanced 1.6 points to 15.7 percent.