Consumers More Confident as Economy Improves

Conference Board index shows consumer confidence in February near year-ago levels.

Consumer confidence in February reached levels not seen in 12 months as the job market and other key economic indicators continue to improve, the Conference Board reported in its Consumer Confidence Index Feb. 28.

The February index rose nearly 30 points to 70.8 from the October low of 40.9.

The index is also up from 61.5 in January.

The index is based on a monthly Consumer Confidence Survey based on a probability-design random sample conducted by Nielsen for The Conference Board. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was February 15.

Dissipating fears lingering from earlier debt-limit talks and the prospect of a double-dip recession were likely factors contributing to the improved index scores, said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

"Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January," Franco said. "And, despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects, and their financial situation."

But Franco cautioned that 70.8 is still a weak score and that rising gas prices and lackluster job growth could negatively impact consumer confidence in the coming months.

Consumers saying business conditions are "good" increased slightly to 13.3% from 13.2%. Consumers who identified business conditions as "bad" decreased to 31.2% from 38.3%, according to the Conference Board report.

Consumers stating jobs are "plentiful" increased to 6.6% from 6.2%, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 38.7% from 43.3%.

Consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than they were in January. The number of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.7% from 16.7%, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 11.8% from 14.6%.

See also:

U.S. Consumer Confidence Jumps

U.S. Consumer Confidence Hits Three Year High

TAGS: The Economy
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