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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in March to 125.6, from 116.1 in February. The Present Situation Index increased from 134.4 last month to 143.1, while the Expectations Index increased from 103.9 in February to 113.8 in March.
“Consumer confidence increased sharply in March to its highest level since December 2000 (Index, 128.6),” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions improved considerably. Consumers also expressed much greater optimism regarding the short-term outlook for business, jobs and personal income prospects. Thus, consumers feel current economic conditions have improved over the recent period, and their renewed optimism suggests the possibility of some upside to the prospects for economic growth in the coming months.”
Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved considerably in March. The percentage saying business conditions are “good” increased from 28.3 percent to 32.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” decreased from 13.4 percent to 12.9 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more positive. The percentage of consumers stating jobs are “plentiful” rose from 26.9 percent to 31.7 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased slightly, from 19.9 percent to 19.5 percent.
Consumers were also more optimistic about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 23.9 percent to 27.1 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen declined from 10.5 percent to 8.4 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was improved. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 20.9 percent to 24.8 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 13.6 percent to 12.2 percent. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase improved from 19.2 percent to 21.5 percent, while the proportion expecting a decrease declined from 8.1 percent to 7.0 percent.