Consumer Confidence Index climbs higher

Lynn Franco
Lynn Franco

A measure of consumer confidence has climbed closer to record heights on more upbeat assessments of business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index rose 3.7 points to 138.4 in September. The index peaked at 144.7 in 2000.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains extremely favorable, bolstered by a strong economy and robust job growth,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “The expectations index surged in September, suggesting solid economic growth exceeding 3 percent for the remainder of the year.”

High consumer confidence levels bode well for retailers going into the holiday shopping season, Franco said.

The business research and membership association bases the Consumer Confidence Index on the results of monthly household surveys. Economists monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

For September, more optimistic assessments of business and labor conditions pushed the present situation component of the index up three-tenths of a point to 173.1.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the index was based who described business conditions as “good” rose nine-tenths of a point to 41.4 percent. The share of those who characterized conditions as “bad” slipped two-tenths of a point to 9.1 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” rose 3.4 points to 45.7 percent. The share of those who said jobs were “hard to get” rose 1.1 points to 13.2 percent.

The expectations component of the Consumer Confidence Index jumped six points to 115.3.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose 3.2 points to 27.6 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell 1.9 points to 8 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months rose a point to 22.5 percent. The proportion of those expecting fewer jobs decreased 2.2 points to 11 percent.

Meanwhile, 22.6 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, down 2.8 points. Another 6.5 percent said they expect to earn less, down four-tenths of a point.