Consumers Feeling More Confident

Don Hogsett, September 5, 2005

New York — Lifted by a stronger jobs outlook, and with Americans seemingly undaunted by rising gas prices, consumer sentiment climbed unexpectedly higher during August, jumping up 1.9 percent to a reading of 105.6, erasing most of the big decline recorded during July, The Conference Board reported.

“Consumers seem to be weathering the steady rise in gas prices quite well,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. “In fact, consumers' confidence in the current state of the economy, and particularly in the labor market,” she added, has sent the Present Situations Index to its highest level in almost four years, up 3.6 percent to a reading of 123.6. The Expectations Index moved up as well but at a more subdued pace of 0.5 percent, to a level of 93.2.

Consumer optimism was buoyed in part by a more upbeat employment picture during August. The number of consumers who said jobs are hard to get declined to 23.2 percent from 23.8 percent. In a corresponding improvement, the number who said jobs are plentiful rose to 23.5 percent from 22.9 percent. For the first time since October 2001, more consumers say jobs are plentiful than hard to get.

Gazing into the crystal ball and looking six months out, the number of consumers who expect business conditions to improve increased to 18.7 percent from 17.9 percent.

Buying plans August
Plans to purchase over the next six months

Source: The Conference Board
Homes –10.5%
Carpets –17.2
Cars –17.1
Major appliances –8.5
Vacation 2.1

Confidence by region

Region % change
Source: The Conference Board
New England 23.7%
Middle Atlantic –18.2
East North Central –1.4
West North Central 25.2
South Atlantic 6.2
East South Central –1.9
West South Central –0.1
Mountain 3.3
Pacific 0.0

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