The outlook on job prospects had consumers in a very confident mood heading into the holiday period.
According to The Conference Board, which tracks consumer sentiment through its Consumer Confidence Index, October’s upbeat mood improved even further this month. The index is now at 129.5, up from last month’s 126.2 level. Both components of the index also saw gains. The present situation index rose slightly to 153.9 from 152, while the expectations index increased to 113.3 from 109.
Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said, “Consumer confidence increased for a fifth consecutive month and remains at a 17-year high.” Seventeen years ago in November 2000, the Index was at 132.6.
“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved moderately, while their expectations regarding the short-term outlook improved more so, driven primarily by optimism of further improvements in the labor market. Consumers are entering the holiday season in very high spirits and foresee the economy expanding at a healthy pace into the early months of 2018,” Franco said.
As for current conditions, those who said business conditions are good inched up to 34.9 percent from 34.4 percent, while those who said jobs are plentiful rose slightly to 37.1 percent from 36.7 percent.
The big boost to confidence was really consumers’ perspective on the economy — jobs-wise — over the next six months. At least for the short-term outlook, the number of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve rose slightly to 22.4 percent from 22.1 percent. What made the difference was their assessment of the jobs front over the short term. Those who expect more jobs in the months ahead jumped to 22.6 percent from 18.7 percent.