Consumers Confident in Jobs Recovery

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose in February to 70.8, the highest level in a year, from a revised 61.5 in January. A drop in firings, bigger payroll growth, and rallying stock prices have supported consumer sentiment, and may spur spending, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

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Americans were more upbeat about job and income prospects in February, according to the Conference Board’s report on Tuesday, despite the 44-cent jump in the price of a gallon of gas so far this year. The group’s measure of present conditions was also up this month, increasing to 45 from 38.8 in January, while its measure of expectations for the next six months climbed to a one-year high of 88, from 76.7 in January.

The Conference Board’s reading on consumer sentiment parallels other data on consumer sentiment this month, including the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, which reached its highest level for the year in the week ended February 19, and the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment, which rose to a 12-month high in February.

The share of consumers who told the Conference Board that jobs are currently hard to get dropped to 38.7 percent, the lowest since November 2008, while the percent of respondents expecting more jobs to become available in the next six months increased to 18.7, from 16.4 in January. The proportion who expected their incomes to rise over the next six months climbed to 15.4, from 13.8 last month.

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