The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had been on the decline since August, rebounded in December, as consumers grew more upbeat about job prospects and the economy.

The index now stands at 102.3 (1985=100), up from 92.6 in November. The expectations index rose to 99.9 from 90.2. The present situation index increased to 105.9 from 96.3.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was significantly more favorable than last month. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 24.4 percent from 23.2 percent, while those claiming conditions are “bad” fell to 17.8 percent from 20.2 percent.

The employment picture also improved in December. Consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 19.4 percent from 17.1 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined to 26.4 percent from 28 percent.

“The continuing economic expansion, combined with job growth, has consumers ending the year on a high note,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “The most significant contributor to the rebound in confidence has been the overall improvement in current conditions over the past 12 months. And consumers’ outlook suggests that the economy will continue to expand in the first half of the new year.”

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months was more upbeat. Those expecting business conditions to improve rose to 22 percent from 20.3 percent last month. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen fell to 7.7 percent from 11.4 percent.

The labor market outlook was also more optimistic. Consumers expecting fewer jobs to become available in the coming months declined to 15.5 percent from 19.3 percent. However, those anticipating more jobs to become available eased to 16.2 percent from 17.6 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged up to 20.7 percent from 19.2 percent last month.

***

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