New year heralds jump in consumer confidence

A new year has brought a renewed sense of confidence among consumers, in turn bolstering hope for a more robust economic recovery.
The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rose more than seven points in January to 60.6. That’s the highest level since the index hit 62.7 in May 2010.

Measures of both current conditions and expectations also increased in January.

“Consumers have begun the new year in better spirits,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Research Center. “Consumers rated business and labor conditions more favorably and expressed greater confidence that the economy will continue to expand and generate more jobs in the months ahead.”

The Conference Board, a business research and membership group, bases the CCI on the results of monthly surveys of 5,000 U.S. households. Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

Consumer assessments of current conditions pushed the Present Situation Index up 5.1 points to 31 in January.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey who called business conditions “good” rose 2.1 points to 9.8 percent. The share of those who called conditions “bad” remained unchanged at 40.4 percent.

The share of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” rose a point to 5.2 percent. The proportion who said jobs are “hard to get” fell 2.6 points to 43.4 percent.

A more upbeat outlook drove up the Expectations Index eight points to 80.3.

The proportion of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months advanced 2.2 points to 19 percent. The share of those who anticipate worsening conditions slipped five-tenths to 11.3 percent.

The proportion of consumers who believe more jobs will become available rose 1.8 points to 16 percent. The share of those expecting fewer jobs fell 1.7 points to 17.5 percent.

The proportion of consumers who expect their incomes to increase rose 1.5 points to 11.4 percent.