Confidence Trending Upward

Don Hogsett, January 31, 2005

With the jobs outlook improving and Americans feeling better about the current state of the economy, consumer confidence advanced for a second straight month in January, improving 0.7 percent to a level of 103.4, The Conference Board reported.

Providing a notable boost to the widely watched gauge of consumer sentiment and future spending was consumers' sentiment about current business conditions, which jumped 4.9 percent, to a reading of 110.9. But looking further out, Americans grew more wary, with the Expectations Index slipping 2.3 percent, to a reading of 98.4 from 100.7.

“Despite the slight retreat in expectations, consumers' short-term outlook remains favorable and suggests the economy will continue to expand throughout the first half of this year,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. Moreover, she noted, “recent advances in the Present Situation Index, now at its highest level since May 2002, suggest consumers will not dramatically alter their spending in the months ahead.”

The employment outlook was more favorable as well during January, the business think tank reported. The number of consumers who said jobs are plentiful increased to 20.7 percent from 19.4 percent, while the number who said jobs are hard to get fell to 24.7 percent from 26.4 percent.

CONFIDENCE BY REGION

Region % change
Source: The Conference Board
New England -8.0%
Middle Atlantic 4.2
East North Central 5.3
West North Central -9.0
South Atlantic -2.4
East South Central 12.6
West South Central 15.3
Mountain -4.6
Pacific 6.4


Buying Plans January
Plans to purchase over the next six months

Source: The Conference Board
Homes -11.4%
Carpets 17.3
Cars 4.5
Major appliances -6.0
Vacation 1.5


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