Consumer Confidence Index remains at 17-year high

A monthly measure of consumer confidence remains at its highest level in 17 years on more upbeat assessments of business and labor conditions that bode well for the holiday shopping season and coming new year.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index climbed 3.3 points to 129.5 in November. With gains in each of the last five months, the index remains at it highest level since a reading of 132.6 in November 2000.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved moderately, while their expectations regarding the short-term outlook improved more so, driven primarily by optimism of further improvements in the labor market,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “Consumers are entering the holiday season in very high spirits and foresee the economy expanding at a healthy pace into the early months of 2018,.”

The business research and membership group bases the index on the results of monthly household surveys. Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity.

For November, the present situation component of the index rose 1.9 points to 153.9.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the November index was based who called business conditions “good” rose a half point to 34.9 percent. The share of those who called conditions “bad” fell eight-tenths of a point to 12.7 percent.

The proportion of consumers who described jobs as “plentiful” rose four-tenths of a point 37.1 percent. The share of those who characterized jobs as “hard to get” slipped two-tenths of a point to 16.9 percent.

The expectations portion of the index rose 4.3 points to 113.3.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months climbed three-tenths of a point to 22.4 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell a half point to 6.5 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months climbed 3.9 points to 22.6 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs retreated six-tenths of a point to 11 percent.

Meanwhile, 20.1 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, down two-tenths of a point. Another 7.6 percent of consumers anticipate less income, virtually unchanged from October.