The consumer confidence index climbed to its highest level in five years, hitting 76.2 in May from an upwardly revised 69.0 last month, The Conference Board reported Tuesday.
The April index was originally reported as 68.1.
The present situation index grew to 66.7 from an upwardly revised 61.0, originally reported as 60.4, while the expectations index soared to 82.4 from an upwardly revised 74.3, originally reported as 73.3.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a 71.0 reading for the index.
"Consumer confidence posted another gain this month and is now at a five-year high (February 2008 index 76.4)," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "Consumers' assessment of current business and labor-market conditions was more positive and they were considerably more upbeat about future economic and job prospects, back-to-back monthly gains suggest that consumer confidence is on the mend and may be regaining the traction it lost due to the fiscal cliff, payroll-tax hike and sequester."
Business conditions were called "good" by 18.8% of respondents in May, up from 17.5% in April. Those saying conditions are "bad" slid to 26.0% from 27.6%.
The percentage of consumers expecting a pickup in business conditions in the next half year rose to 19.2% from 17.2%, while 12.1% said they expect conditions to worsen, down from 14.8% the prior month.
On the jobs front, those who believe jobs are "plentiful" climbed to 10.8% in May from 9.7% in April, while the number saying jobs are "hard to get" slid to 36.1% from 36.9%. The respondents who see fewer jobs becoming available in a half year, decreased to 19.7% from 21.8%. Those expecting more jobs to become available gained to 16.8% from 14.3%, The Conference Board reported.
Income expectations were mixed, with 16.6% of consumers anticipating an increase in their income in the next six months, off from the prior month's 16.8%, while 15.3% expect their income to decrease, down from 15.9% in the prior month's survey.
The number of consumers who expected to buy a home in the next six months fell to 4.9% from 5.6%, while the number of respondents planning to buy a car dipped to 10.1% from 10.6%. More consumers than last month said they plan to buy a major appliance in the next six months (48.5% vs. 47.3%).
Fewer respondents than last month (42.4% vs. 43.7%) expect to take a vacation in the next six months, but more said they would stay in the U.S. rather than leave the country. Airplanes rather than cars were the preferred mode of travel, by a 22.3%-21.1% margin.
The consumer confidence survey is based on a probability design random sample by the Nielsen Company.