Consumer confidence strengthens on improving expectations

A monthly measure of consumer confidence continues to increase along with expectations for improving business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index rose 4.3 points to 113.7 in December. While a component of the index tracking present conditions decreased, a component tracking expectations jumped more than 11 points to its highest level in 13 years.

“Looking ahead to 2017, consumers’ continued optimism will depend on whether or not their expectations are realized,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

The business research and membership association bases the index on the results of monthly household surveys.

For December, the present situation component of the index slipped nearly six points 126.1.

The share of consumers responding to the survey upon which the December index was based who described business conditions as “good” edged down a half point to 29.2 percent. The portion of those who said conditions are “bad” rose more than two points to 17.3 percent.

The share of consumers who characterized jobs as “plentiful” fell nearly a point to 26.9 percent. The portion of those who said jobs are “hard to get” increased 1.3 points to 22.5 percent.

The expectations component of the index rose to 105.5, the highest reading since it stood at 107.4 in December 2003.

The portion of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose 7.2 points to 23.6 percent. The share of those anticipating worsening conditions fell 1.2 points to 8.7 percent.

The portion of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months advanced nearly five points to 21 percent. The share of those anticipating fewer jobs also increased, but only a half point to 14 percent.