The consumer confidence index increased to 125.9 in October from a revised 120.6 last month, The Conference Board reported Tuesday.

The September index was originally reported as 119.8.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a 121.0 reading for the index.

The present situation index rose to 151.1 from a revised 146.9, first reported as 146.1, while the expectations index grew to 109.1 from a revised 103.0, first reported as 102.2.

“Consumer confidence increased to its highest level in almost 17 years (Dec. 2000, 128.6) in October after remaining relatively flat in September,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, boosted by the job market which had not received such favorable ratings since the summer of 2001. Consumers were also considerably more upbeat about the short-term outlook, with the prospect of improving business conditions as the primary driver. Confidence remains high among consumers, and their expectations suggest the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace for the remainder of the year.”

Business conditions were called “good” by 34.5% of respondents in October, up from 33.4% of respondents in September. Those saying conditions are “bad” rose to 13.5% from 13.2%.

The percentage of consumers expecting a pickup in business conditions in the next half year grew to 22.2% from 20.9%, while 6.9% said they expect conditions to worsen, down from 9.6% in the prior month.

On the jobs front, those who believe jobs are “plentiful” grew to 36.3% from 32.7% in last month, while the number saying jobs are “hard to get” fell to 17.5% from 18.0%. The respondents who see fewer jobs becoming available in a half year, decreased to 11.8% from 13.0%. Those expecting more jobs to become available slid to 18.9% from 19.2%, The Conference Board reported.

The consumer confidence survey is based on a probability design random sample by the Nielsen Company.

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Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel has been at The Bond Buyer since 1989, currently covering economic indicators and the Federal Reserve system.