Index: Consumers more upbeat at start of new year

Consumers are more upbeat in the new year and expect growth to continue, according to the latest measure of their confidence.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index rose 2.3 points to 125.4 in January. While a component of the index tracking consumer assessments of current conditions slipped, the component tracking expectations increased.

“Consumers remain quite confidence that the solid pace of growth seen in late 2017 will continue into 2018,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

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

For January, the present situation component of the index fell 1.2 points to 155.3.

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

The proportion of consumers who characterized jobs as “plentiful” rose 1.3 points to 37.6 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” edged up four-tenths of a point to 16.4 percent.

The expectations component of the index climbed 4.7 points to 105.5.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose four-tenths of a point to 22 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions rose eight-tenths of a point to 9.8 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months held steady at 19 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs fell 4.1 points to 11.8 percent.

Meanwhile, 20.4 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, down 2.3 points. Another 7.7 percent of consumers said they anticipate earning less, down 1.3 points.