Consumer Confidence Index climbs on most upbeat views of current conditions in eight years

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has increased in part on the most upbeat assessments of current business and labor conditions in eight years.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index rose 1.7 points to 103 in September.

The latest gain followed a more than 10-point jump in August.

A component of the index tracking assessments of present conditions advanced 5.3 points to 121.1, the highest reading since September 2007. A separate measure of expectations declined six-tenths of a point to 91, however.

“While consumers view current economic conditions more favorably, they do not foresee growth accelerating in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

The Conference Board, a business research and membership association, bases the index on the results of monthly surveys of U.S. households. Economists closely monitor the results because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country. The cutoff for the latest survey was Sept. 17.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the September index was based who described current business conditions as “good” rose 4.3 points to 28 percent. The share of those who called business conditions “bad” fell 1.1 points to 16.7 percent.

The proportion of consumers who described jobs are “plentiful” rose three points to 25.1 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” also rose — 2.6 points to 24.3 percent.

Less optimistic assessments pulled down the expectations component of the index.

While 17.9 percent of consumers said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months, up 1.3 points, 10.3 percent said they anticipate worsening conditions, up 1.2 points.

The proportion of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months held steady at 15 percent, while the share of those anticipating fewer jobs rose 1.3 points to 15.8 percent.

While the proportion of consumers who expect their incomes to increase rose 2.9 points to 19.1 percent, the share of those anticipating declining incomes edged up three-tenths of a point to 10.1 percent.