PhotoConsumers seem to be feeling a lot better about the economy than they did a month ago.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index rose 3.2 points in February to 114.8 after dipping a point and a half the month before.

The improvement came as the Present Situation Index rose from 130.0 to 133.4 and the Expectations Index jumped from 99.3 last month to 102.4.

“Consumer confidence increased in February and remains at a 15-year high,” according to Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Consumers rated current business and labor market conditions more favorably this month than in January. Expectations improved regarding the short-term outlook for business, and to a lesser degree jobs and income prospects. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding in the months ahead.”

Survey results

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was relatively steady, with those saying business conditions are “good” slipping from 29.0% to 28.7%, and those who think conditions are “bad” dropping to 13.2% from 15.9%.

The way consumers see the labor market was mixed as well. Those who say jobs are “plentiful” declined from 27.1% to 26.2%, while those who believe jobs are “hard to get” also decreased -- from 21.1% to 20.3%.

There was more optimism about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers who foresee business conditions improving over the next six months rose from 22.9% to 24.0%. At the same time, though, those expecting business conditions to worsen also rose -- from 10.8% to 11.1%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was a little more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 20.4% from 19.7%, while those who think there'll be fewer jobs dropped from 14.4% to 13.6%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase inched up from 18.1% to 18.3%; the proportion expecting a decline dropped to 8.2% from 9.4%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was February 16.


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