Consumer confidence climbs five points in January

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had dipped last month, rose briskly in January. The Index now stands at 96.8 (1985=100), up from 91.7 in December. The Expectations Index rose to 108.1 from 103.3. The Present Situation Index increased to 80.0 from 74.3.

“Consumer confidence is now at its highest level since July 2002, when the Index registered 97.4,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Growing optimism about the overall health of the economy continues to bolster consumers’ short-term outlook. But consumers’ assessment of current conditions, which strongly hinges on improvements in the labor market, remains both weak and volatile.”

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions was more favorable in January than in December. Those describing current business conditions as good increased to 22% from 18.6%. Those claiming conditions had deteriorated declined to 22.8% from 24.5%. Those saying jobs are hard to get fell to 31.4% from 32.4%. Consumers claiming jobs are plentiful, however, dipped to 12.4% from 12.6%.

Consumers continue to grow more optimistic about the next six months. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 27.8% from 26.7%. Consumers expecting conditions to grow worse declined to 6.5% from 8.1%.

The employment outlook was also more favorable. Those anticipating more jobs to become available in the next six months increased to 22.2% from 21.6%. Those expecting fewer jobs to become available decreased to 14.9% from 16.9%. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes, however, declined to 18.9% from 21.5%.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup. NFO is one of TNS group of companies. The cutoff date for January’s preliminary results was the 21st.