PhotoConsumers' views on the economy improved in September for a second straight month.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index was up 2.3 points from August for a reading of 104.1. Within that, the Present Situation Index rose from 125.3 to 128.5, while the Expectations Index improved from 86.1 last month to 87.8.

“Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved, primarily the result of a more positive view of the labor market, said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco.

“Looking ahead, consumers are more upbeat about the short-term employment outlook, but somewhat neutral about business conditions and income prospects. Overall, consumers continue to rate current conditions favorably and foresee moderate economic expansion in the months ahead.”

Here and now

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in September. While those who say business conditions are “good” decreased from 30.3% to 27.4%, those who think conditions are “bad” fell from 18.2% to 16.2%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was more positive than last month. Those who believe jobs are “plentiful” inched up from 26.8% to 27.9%, and those who said jobs are “hard to get” dipped to 21.6% from 22.8%.

Looking ahead

There was an increase in optimism regarding the short-term outlook in September. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months slipped from 17.6% to 16.5%. However, those expecting business conditions to worsen also declined -- from 11.4% to 10.2%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 14.4% to 15.1%, while those who think there will be fewer jobs was down 0.5% to 17.0%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell from 18.5% to 17.1%. At the same time, the proportion anticipating a decline dropped to 10.3% from 11.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 15.

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