The Conference Board said that consumer confidence rose again, with sentiment now at its highest level since July 2001. The Consumer Confidence Index increased from 111.6 in January to 114.8 in February. This continued to represent a mostly positive assessment of the economy relative to perceptions just a few months ago. For instance, the index stood at 96.7 as recently as July 2016. Better perceptions about both current (up from 130.0 to 133.4) and future (up from 99.3 to 102.4) conditions in February boosted the headline index. The acceleration in confidence in this report came from a lessoning in those respondents saying that business conditions were “bad,” down from 15.9 percent to 13.2 percent. Those suggesting conditions were “good” eased slightly, down from 29.0 to 28.7. Nonetheless, Americans were mostly upbeat in their outlook.
Along those lines, the percentage of those completing the survey expecting their incomes to increase edged up from 18.1 percent to 18.3 percent, with the percentage feeling that their incomes would fall in the months ahead dropping from 9.4 percent to 8.2 percent. This view extended to the labor market. In this release, the percent feeling that jobs were “hard to get” declined from 21.1 percent to 20.3 percent. Yet, the data also expressed some lingering anxieties, with the percentage saying that jobs were “plentiful” also pulling back somewhat, down from 27.1 percent to 26.2 percent.