The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which increased sharply in June, posted further gains in July. The index now stands at 106.1 (1985=100), up from 102.8 in June. The expectations index jumped to 105.8 from 100.8. The present situation index edged up to 106.5 from 105.9 in June.

“Consumer confidence has now increased for four consecutive months, and is at its highest level since June 2002 when it registered 106.3,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “The spring turnaround has been fueled by gains in employment, and unless the job market sours, consumer confidence should continue to post solid numbers.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was somewhat mixed, but favorable overall. Those saying business conditions are “good” was relatively flat, at 25.6 percent compared to 25.8 percent last month. Those claiming conditions are “bad,” however, edged up to 19.1 percent from 17.4 percent. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” rose to 19.8 percent from 18.3 percent. Consumers claiming jobs are “hard to get” remained virtually unchanged at 26 percent, compared to 26.2 percent in June.

Consumers’ expectations for the next six months are also somewhat mixed, but more optimistic than last month. Those anticipating conditions to worsen declined to 7 percent from 9.1 percent. Consumers expecting business conditions to improve remained relatively unchanged, 23.2 percent versus 23.5 percent in June.

The employment outlook remains optimistic, as consumers expecting fewer jobs declined to 13.1 percent from 16.8 percent. But those anticipating more jobs to become available eased to 19.4 percent from 19.9 percent. Also, the proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to rise over the next six months declined to 18.1 percent from 19.7 percent last month.

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

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