Economic and job growth boost consumer confidence

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

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index advanced more than two points to 92.4 in August. While consumers were more upbeat in their assessments of current conditions, they were a bit less optimistic in their short-term outlooks.

“Consumer confidence increased for a fourth consecutive month as improving business conditions and robust job growth helped boost consumers’ spirits,”  said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

“Looking ahead, consumers were marginally less optimistic about the short-term outlook compared to July, primarily due to concerns about their earnings. Overall, however, they remain quite positive about the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market,” Franco said.

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 index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity in the country.

For August, the present situation component of the index jumped nearly seven points to 94.6.

The share of consumers responding to the survey upon which the August index was based who described business conditions as “good” edged up six-tenths of a point to 23.9 percent. The proportion of those who called conditions “bad” fell 1.3 points to 21.5 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” rose 2.6 points to 18.2 percent. The share of those who said jobs remain “hard to get” slipped three-tenths of a point to 30.6 percent.

The expectations component of the index retreated a point to 90.9 in August.

The share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months held steady at 20.4 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell 1.9 points to 10.2 percent.

The share of consumers who believe more jobs will become available in the months ahead declined 1.7 points to 17 percent. The proportion of those forecasting fewer jobs also decreased — eight-tenths of a point to 15.8 percent.

Fewer consumers expect their incomes to grow — down 2.2 points from July to 15.5 percent. A few more consumers expect their incomes to drop — up eight-tenths of a point to 11.9 percent.