PhotoFollowing two straight monthly declines, the confidence of consumers in the nation's economy is on the rise again.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which had been revised to show a decline in June, was up 3.8 points to 121.1 in July.

The Present Situation Index rose from 143.9 to 147.8, while the Expectations Index went to 1.3.3 from 99.6 last month.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remained at a 16-year high (July 2001, 151.3) and their expectations for the short-term outlook improved somewhat after cooling last month,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Overall, consumers foresee the current economic expansion continuing well into the second half of this year.”

How they see it

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in July, with those who say business conditions are “good” increasing from 30.6% to 33.3%; those who believe conditions are “bad” was virtually unchanged at 13.5%.

The view of the labor market was also more favorable. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” jumped to 34.1% from 32.0%, with the opposite view down a touch from 18.4% to 18.0%.

There's also more optimism about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose from 20.1% to 22.9%, while those expecting a worsening dropped from 10.0% to 8.2%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market improved. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was unchanged at 19.2%, while who think there will be fewer jobs declined to 13.3% from 14.6%.

However, they were not as upbeat about their income prospects. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to improve slipped from 20.9% to 20.0%, while the proportion anticipating a decline rose from 9.3% to 10.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 14.



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