The Conference Board said that consumer confidence has returned to where it was before the partial government shutdown. The Consumer Confidence Index increased for the second straight month, up from a revised 77.5 in December to 80.7 in January. This was the highest sentiment since August (81.8), and it mirrored a similar rebound in the preliminary data from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters (which will release final data for January on Friday).
Over the course of 2013, the public generally became more confident. For instance, in the aftermath of the fiscal cliff debate, the Conference Board’s measure was 58.4, suggesting an increase of 22.3 points in the past 12 months.
The increase in perceptions in January resulted from improved views about current and future economic conditions. Yet, Americans still have concerns about the labor market, with nearly one-third of survey respondents saying that jobs were “hard to get.” At the same time, more of those taking the survey anticipated higher incomes than in the last report.
Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.