The Conference Board today announced that its consumer confidence index, which had declined in July, bounced back in August. The index now stands at 105.6, up from 103.6 in July.

The present situation index increased to 123.6 from 119.3. The expectations index edged up to 93.7 from 93.2 last month.

“Consumers appear to be weathering the steady rise in gas prices quite well,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “In fact, consumers’ confidence in the current state of the economy, and particularly in the labor market, has propelled the present situation index to its highest level in nearly four years (125.4 in September 2001). Expectations continue to suggest more of the same for the remainder of this year.”

Consumers’ overall assessment of ongoing conditions was considerably more favorable in August. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 29.8 percent from 28.7 percent. Those claiming conditions are “bad” slipped to 15.1 percent from 16.7 percent.

The employment picture was also upbeat. Consumers saying jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 23.2 percent from 23.8 percent, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” rose to 23.5 percent from 22.9 percent. For the first time since October 2001, consumers claiming jobs are plentiful outnumber those claiming jobs are hard to get.

Consumers’ short-term outlook improved marginally from July, with those anticipating business conditions to improve in the next six months increased to 18.7 percent from 17.9 percent. However, consumers expecting business conditions to worsen edged up to 9.7 percent from 9.5 percent.

The outlook for the labor market remains mixed. Those expecting more jobs to become available in the coming months increased to 16.6 percent from 15.6 percent. But those expecting fewer jobs also edged up to 17.2 percent from 16.7 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to increase in the months ahead improved to 19.8 percent from 18.6 percent last month.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

***

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