In the biggest one-month increase in more than 17 years, an index of consumer confidence charting attitudes in September reveals that Americans are feeling increasingly bullish about the state of the economy.
The New York-based Conference Board, a non-profit analyzing economic trends, is showing that its latest index of consumer confidence has jumped from 86.3 in August to 101.8 last month.
The new numbers are not only the highest they have been since March when the country first went into a pandemic economic shutdown, but also represent the biggest reporting period increase since the spring of 2003, when the country was emerging from a brief recession.
In a statement, Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said, “A more favorable view of current business and labor market conditions, coupled with renewed optimism about the short-term outlook, helped spur this month’s rebound in confidence.”
Franco added that consumers in general have recently expressed increased optimism regarding their financial prospects, an optimism, she said, “which may help keep spending from slowing further in the months ahead.”
The new index findings also show that the percentage of consumers regarding current business conditions favorably have increased from 16% in August to 18.3% last month.
Attitudes regarding the labor market have also shown a shift in an upward direction. Those agreeing that jobs are plentiful increased from 21.4% to 22.9%. At the same time, those who thought jobs were “hard to get” decreased from 23.6% to 20.0%.
Notes the Wall Street Journal: “Consumer bullishness likely reflected in part consistent improvements in the labor market.”
Although the Conference Board’s latest index reflects a new buoyancy, noted Franco, the confidence percentage still “remains below pre-pandemic levels.”
In an interview with Financial World, Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist with the Mitsubishi UFG Financial Group, said the sheer magnitude of the increased index numbers “tells us the consumer thinks the worst days of the recession are over.”
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence survey is designed to reflect prevailing business conditions, serving as a possible precursor for developments in the months ahead.
By Garry Boulard
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