The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, a key indicator of economic conditions, increased in April to 92.9 (1985=100), from 88.5 in March. The Present Situation Index rose to 90.6 from 84.4, and the Expectations Index increased to 94.5 from 91.3.

“This latest improvement in consumer confidence was sparked by a more favorable assessment of current business and labor market conditions and increased consumer optimism about the next six months,” Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center, said.

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.

Consumers saying business conditions have improved rose to 21.4 percent, up from 20.7 percent, while those claiming conditions have worsened declined to 22 percent from 23.1 percent. Consumers claiming jobs are “hard to get” fell to 27.6 percent from 29.9 percent, while those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 15.8 percent from 14.7 percent.

Consumer optimism about the next six months improved for the first time this year. Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months edged up to 20.5 percent from 19.5 percent. Consumers expecting conditions to worsen dipped to 9.3 percent from 9.7 percent.

The employment outlook was also more favorable. Those anticipating more jobs to become available in the next six months increased to 18.2 percent from 15.7 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs was virtually unchanged at 17.5 percent. Consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes declined to 17 percent from 18 percent last month.

“The job market, which has a major impact on confidence, appears to be gaining strength. The percentage of consumers claiming jobs are hard to get is now at its lowest level since November 2002, and more consumers expect this trend to continue,” Franco said.

The Conference Board is a nonprofit research and business group.

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