The Conference Board said that consumer sentiment was at its highest level in more than 17 years in February. The Consumer Confidence Index rose from 124.3 in January to 130.8 in February. Americans were more upbeat in their assessments of both current (up from 154.7 to 162.4) and future (up from 104.0 to 109.7) economic conditions. Along those lines, the percentage of respondents saying that business conditions were “good” increased from 35.0 percent to 35.8 percent, with those suggesting that conditions were “bad” dropping from 13.0 percent to 10.8 percent.
Overall, pocketbook issues remained important, with the public more upbeat about labor market conditions. The percentage of respondents feeling that jobs were “plentiful” increased from 37.2 percent to 39.4 percent, with those saying that jobs were “hard to get” inching down from 16.3 percent to 14.7 percent. At the same time, 23.8 percent felt that their incomes would rise in the coming months, up from 20.6 percent in the prior survey. In contrast, just 8.6 percent anticipate reduced incomes over the next six months.