Optimism about the job market has helped fuel gains in consumer confidence levels.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index is at 130.8, up from 124.3 in January. Both components of the Index rose this month. The Present Situation Index rose to 162.4 from 154.7, while the Expectations Index increased to 109.7 from 104 in January.
Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators, said, “Consumer confidence improved to its highest level since 2000 [when it was 132.6 in November] after a modest increase in January.”
Franco added, “Despite the recent stock market volatility, consumers expressed greater optimism about short-term prospects for business and labor market conditions, as well as their financial prospects. Overall, consumers remain quite confidence that the economy will continue expanding at a strong pace in the months ahead.”
Helping the gains in the present situation index was consumers’ assessment of the labor market. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” rose to 39.4 percent from 37.2 percent. The number of respondents who said that jobs are “hard to get” fell to 14.7 percent from 16.3 percent.
As for the expectations, or short-term outlook six months out, their outlook on the jobs front was also more positive. Those who expect more jobs ahead rose to 21.6 percent from 18.7 percent. And those who said they expect fewer jobs fell to 11.9 percent from 12.5 percent.
Naveen Jaggi, president of retail and capital markets for JLL, an investment management firm specializing in real estate, said, “Strength in labor market and the recent tax cuts propelled consumers to remain positive, despite the recent volatility of the financial markets. This bodes well for retailers as most consumers found extra discretionary income in their pay checks.”
The Consumer Confidence Survey is a probability-designed random sample conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for preliminary results was Feb. 15.