The Conference Board said that consumer sentiment was at its highest level in nearly 17 years in October. The Consumer Confidence Index rose from 120.6 in September to 125.9 in October, its best reading since December 2000. Americans were more upbeat in their assessments of both current (up from 146.9 to 151.1) and future (up from 103.0 to 109.1) economic conditions. Along those lines, the percentage of respondents saying that business conditions were “good” increased from 33.4 percent to 34.5 percent, which was more than enough to offset the slight uptick of those suggesting that conditions were “bad” (up from 13.2 percent to 13.5 percent).
Overall, these findings mirrored similarly optimistic perceptions about the economic environment seen in the competing survey from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters. That report found sentiment was at its highest point since January 2004, largely on improvements in personal finances and positive expectations in the future outlook.
In the Conference Board’s analysis, these pocketbook issues were also important. The percentage of respondents feeling that jobs were “plentiful” increased from 32.7 percent to 36.3 percent, with those saying that jobs were “hard to get” inching down from 18.0 percent to 17.5 percent. At the same time, the percentage feeling that their incomes would fall in the coming months dropped from 8.6 percent to 7.4 percent, with those anticipating higher incomes edging down slightly from 20.5 percent to 20.3 percent.
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