The Rocky Mountain region has scored the biggest gains in consumer confidence over the last year, according to an analysis released today by The Conference Board. This area – which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada – has also registered solid increases in help-wanted job advertising in key cities in this region.

The Conference Board’s widely watched consumer confidence index for this region has climbed from 68.8 to 103.4 over the last year (from February 2003 to February 2004). From January 2003 to January 2004, The Conference Board’s help-wanted job advertising index for the region – a major barometer of America’s job market – advanced from 62 to 68.

“Nothing is more important to consumers than the health of the job market,” said Conference Board Economist Ken Goldstein. “Two of the top three metro areas in America, in terms of employment increases over the past year, are in the Rocky Mountain states (Las Vegas, and Phoenix). So it shouldn’t be any surprise that consumer attitudes in this part of the country have turned more positive over the last 12 months than elsewhere.”

Also showing striking gains in consumer confidence are states in the Pacific region, which includes Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii. The East South Central region – including Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi – also showed considerable improvement. In the Pacific region, consumer confidence increased from 63.3 to 94.1 over the last year. In the East South Central region, the consumer confidence index climbed from 60.7 to 92.5. The help-wanted advertising index also advanced in the East South Central region, where it rose from 81 to 90 over the last year.

Consumer confidence has been weakest in the vital East North Central region, which includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Although consumer confidence advanced over the last year, the gains have been the smallest of all nine U.S. regions. Here, consumer confidence only increased 14.3 points from a year ago. Help-wanted advertising declined during this period, dipping two points – from 35 to 33.

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