Index reflects growing consumer confidence

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has increased on more upbeat assessments of current business and labor conditions as well as more optimistic expectations for the near future.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index rose 3.8 points to 121.1 in July.

A component of the index tracking current conditions increased nearly four points to 147.8 to remain at its highest level in 16 years. A component tracking expectations advanced 3.7 points to 103.3.

“Overall, consumers foresee the current economic expansion continuing well into the second half of this year,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

The business research and membership association bases the Consumer Confidence 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 in the country.

For July, consumers were more upbeat in their assessments of current business and labor conditions.

The proportion of those who responded to the survey upon which the July index was based who described business conditions as “good” rose 2.7 points to 33.3 percent. The share of those who called conditions “bad” held steady at 13.5 percent.

The proportion of consumers who characterized jobs as “plentiful” rose 2.1 points to 34.1 percent. Those who said jobs are “hard to get” fell four-tenths of a point to 18 percent.

Consumers also were more optimistic in their short-term outlook.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose 2.8 points to 22.9 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell 1.8 points to 8.2 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months remained unchanged at 19.2 percent. But the proportion of those predicting fewer jobs fell 1.3 points to 13.3 percent.

While 20 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, down nine-tenths of a point, 10 percent said they anticipate less income, up seven-tenths of a point.