Better economic conditions in February boosted consumer confidence to its highest level since August 2001, The Conference Board reported today.
Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said the combination of “improving present-day business conditions” and less difficulty finding jobs helped to lift consumers’ spirits this month.
The consumer confidence index climbed to 112.5 in February from 110.2 in January, as the number of consumers claiming business conditions are “good” rose and the number of those saying conditions are “bad” fell.
Current labor market conditions were somewhat mixed in February, as fewer consumers said jobs were “hard to get” but fewer claiming that jobs were “plentiful.”
Consumers’ outlook for the next six months did not change significantly in February. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen remained at 8 percent, while those expecting business conditions to improve increased slightly to 16.7 percent from 16.3 percent.
The outlook for the labor market was relatively more upbeat, with just 14.1 percent of consumers surveyed expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead compared with 15.6 percent in January, but those holding the opposite view remained virtually unchanged at 13.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase in the months ahead declined to 17.7 percent from 20 percent in January.
“All in all, it appears that the pace of economic growth exhibited in the final months of 2006 has carried over into early 2007 and may have even gained a little momentum,” Franco said.
The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.