The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had dipped last month, rose briskly in January to 96.8 (1985=100), up from 91.7 in December.

The expectations index rose to 108.1 from 103.3. The present situation index increased to 80 from 74.3.

“Consumer confidence is now at its highest level since July 2002, when the index registered 97.4,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Growing optimism about the overall health of the economy continues to bolster consumers’ short-term outlook. But consumers’ assessment of current conditions, which strongly hinges on improvements in the labor market, remains both weak and volatile.”

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions was more favorable in January than in December. Those describing current business conditions as good increased to 22 percent from 18.6 percent. Those claiming conditions had deteriorated declined to 22.8 percent from 24.5 percent. Those saying jobs are hard to get fell to 31.4 percent from 32.4 percent. Consumers claiming jobs are plentiful, however, dipped to 12.4 percent from 12.6 percent.

Consumers continue to grow more optimistic about the next six months. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 27.8 percent from 26.7 percent. Consumers expecting conditions to grow worse declined to 6.5 percent from 8.1 percent.

The employment outlook was also more favorable. Those anticipating more jobs to become available in the next six months increased to 22.2 percent from 21.6 percent. Those expecting fewer jobs to become available decreased to 14.9 percent from 16.9 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes, however, declined to 18.9 percent from 21.5 percent.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households and is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup.

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