Consumer confidence hits two-year high

Don Hogsett, August 2, 2004

Buoyed by an improving jobs outlook, consumer confidence jumped up for a fourth consecutive month in June, rising 3.2 percent to a reading of 106.1, up from 102.8 in June, The Conference Board reported.

The bellwether gauge of consumer sentiment — a widely watched barometer of future consumer spending, the engine that drives the U.S. economy — now stands at its highest level in two years, since June 2002, when it reached a level of 106.3.

"The spring turnaround has been fueled by gains in employment, and unless the job market sours, consumer confidence should continue to post solid numbers," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions "was somewhat mixed, but favorable overall," the business think tank recorded. The number of Americans who think conditions are "good" was relatively flat at 25.6 percent versus 25.8 percent in June. But the number who think conditions are "bad" climbed to 19.1 percent from 17.4 percent the preceding month.

In particularly good news, consumers see the jobs market improving. The number who say jobs are "plentiful" climbed to 19.8 percent from 18.3 percent in June. And consumers claiming jobs are "hard to get" was virtually unchanged at 26 percent, down slightly from 26.2 percent the prior month.

Consumer confidence by region

New England 2.1
Middle Atlantic 8.6
East North Central 9.5
West North Central 14.5
South Atlantic -0.08
East South Central 3.1
West South Central -4.2
Mountain -9.6
Pacific 6.3
Source: The Conference Board

Consumer Buying Plans — July
Plans to purchase over the next six months

Homes 11.1
Carpets -6.2
Cars 1.6
Major appliances -11.4
Vacation 0.0
Source: The Conference Board

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