The East South Central region of the country scored the biggest gains in consumer confidence last year, according to an analysis released today by The Conference Board. This area, which includes Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, also registered solid increases in help-wanted job advertising in such key cities as Birmingham, Ala., and Knoxville, Louisville, Memphis and Nashville, Tenn. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index for this region climbed from 76 to 104 last year. During the same period, The Conference Board's Help-Wanted Job Advertising Index for the region, a barometer of America's job market, advanced from 80 to 85. Conference Board Economist Ken Goldstein said Birmingham is worth watching because "as Birmingham goes, so goes the nation." "The East South Central region was red hot back in the late 1990s. It would not be surprising if this region becomes one of the first to catch fire now that the economy, and even the job market, is starting to b...
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