Consumer confidence is climbing

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index™, which had posted a slight increase in March, improved considerably in April. The Index now stands at 39.2 (1985=100), up from 26.9 in March. The Present Situation Index increased to 23.7 from 21.9 last month. The Expectations Index rose to 49.5 from 30.2 in March.

Says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “Consumer Confidence rose in April to its highest reading in 2009, driven primarily by a significant improvement in the short-term outlook. The Present Situation Index posted a moderate gain, a sign that conditions have not deteriorated further, and may even moderately improve, in the second quarter. The sharp increase in the Expectations Index suggests that consumers believe the economy is nearing a bottom, however, this Index still remains well below levels associated with strong economic growth.”

Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions improved moderately in April. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” declined to 45.7 percent from 51.0 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 7.6 percent from 6.9 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the job market was somewhat mixed. The percentage of consumers stating jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 47.9 percent from 48.8 percent in March, however, those saying jobs are “plentiful” edged down to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent.

Consumers’ short-term outlook improved significantly in April. Those anticipating business conditions will worsen over the next six months declined to 25.3 percent from 37.8 percent, while those expecting conditions to improve increased to 15.6 percent from 9.6 percent in March.

The employment outlook was also considerably less pessimistic. The percentage of consumers anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead decreased to 33.6 percent from 41.6 percent, while those expecting more jobs increased to 13.9 percent from 7.3 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes edged up to 8.0 percent from 7.8 percent.

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