Consumer Confidence Index climbs to highest level in nearly a year

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has climbed to its highest level in nearly a year on more upbeat assessments of business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index rose 4.4 points to 101.1 in August. The latest reading more than offset a slight decline in July while climbing to the highest level since the index hit 102.6 in September.

For August, components of the index tracking current conditions and short-term expectations increased.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said the rising index suggests “the possibility of a moderate pickup in growth in coming months.”

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

For August, more optimistic assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed the present situation component of the index up 4.7 points to 123.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the latest index was based who described business conditions as “good” rose 2.7 points to 30 percent. The share of those who called conditions “bad” remained unchanged at 18.4 percent.

The portion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” climbed three points to 26 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” also rose, but less at 1.3 points to 23.4 percent.

A more optimistic outlook also pushed up the expectations component of the index — 4.4 points to 86.4 in August.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months  rose 1.6 points to 17.3 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell 1.3 points to 11.1 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months rose seven-tenths of a point to 14.2 percent. The proportion of those who expect fewer jobs held steady at 17.5 percent.

While 18.8 percent of consumers believe their incomes will increase, up 1.7 points from July, 10.7 percent anticipate lower incomes, down three-tenths of a point.