Consumer Confidence Index soars

Lynn Franco

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has soared to its highest level since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic on more upbeat assessments of business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index jumped 19.3 points to 109.7 in March and the highest reading in a year.

“Consumers’ assessments of current conditions and their short-term outlook improved significantly, an indication that economic growth is likely to strengthen further in the coming months,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. 

“Consumers’ renewed optimism boosted their purchasing intentions for homes, autos and several big-ticket items. However, concerns of inflation in the short-term rose, most likely due to rising prices at the pump, and may temper spending intentions in the months ahead,” Franco said.

Assessments of current conditions pushed the present situation component of the index up 20.4 points to 110.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the March index was based who characterized business conditions as “good” rose 2.4 points to 18.5 percent. The share of those who described conditions as “bad” fell 9.2 points to 30.5 percent. 

The proportion of those who said jobs were “plentiful” rose 4.7 points to 26.3 percent. The share of those who said jobs were “hard to get” fell 3.9 points to 18.5 percent.

An improving short-term outlook pushed the expectations component of the index up 18.7 points to 109.6.

The share of survey respondents who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose 10.1 points to 40.8 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell 6.7 points to 11 percent.

The share of those who expect more jobs to become available in coming months rose 8.7 points to 36.1 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs declined 7.9 points to 13.4 percent.